Category Archives: Blending in


I use this word a lot.  Especially with my kids. It is Irish slang for idiot, but is meant in an affectionate way.  People tend to call you an eejit and cuff you over the ear.

Most people I know are eejits in one way or another; we ALL have our own particular eejitin’ ways.  Once must embrace that part of one’s soul otherwise one becomes uptight and obnoxious.

My kids who are half Irish/French have learnt the following exchange by heart:

Me:    Where’s your togs?  (togs = swimsuit, might be another Irish word, tbc)

Child:  I dunno

Me:    Did you look for them?

Child: Like – everywhere

Me:     Really?  Absolutely everywhere?

Child:  Gallic shrug, makes huge innocent eyes that somehow seem to rotate around the side of their head

(We both toddle off to their bedroom)

(Togs on floor beside bed / in their place in the wardrobe)

Me:      Seriously? They’re right there.  You didn’t look at all.  This happens every time!  What are ya?

Child  (and everybody else in the family): I’m an EEJIT!!

(cue much giggling and me giving child in question a number of light cuffs over the head, togs sail about the place as we do our best to lose them again)

Eating like a Frenchie

Himself brought home figs from the market yesterday and declared “they’re bloody in season so I says bloody heck I’m gonna buy some”.

The French have this thing they call “manger de saison“.  It means only eating fruit and veg that is in season.  It’s not very revolutionary and up until globalisation everybody had to do it.  But what is interesting is that the French, stubborn and headstrong as they are the wee devils, insist on continuing the tradition.  And it’s not even a hipster thing.

So why the culinary grit?  Apart from their adorable stubborn streak they reckon it tastes better, is more aligned with your nutritional needs, is less processed, costs less, has less carbon footprint and so on.  And after much navel gazing and not much scientific proof I reckon they’re right.

Having said that I can’t keep track of it because there are so many fruit and vegetables and I am admittedly a bit monomaniac when it comes to spuds.  But French kids learn it as they grow up and it becomes a part of their DNA.  Pardon the pun.

As an Irish girlie growing up in the eighties my main memory of figs growing up were fig rolls.  I used to love discovering them in my lunchbox at school.  Imagine my surprise when I saw what a real fig looks like.  Sorry Mum maybe you gave me real figs and I don’t remember.  Although I suspect you don’t give a fig.  Giggle.


So here’s the deal if you want to eat fruit like a Frenchie!

I think I am going to print this in an effort to learn it




Little Lady and the Rude Dude

We live in an old glove factory below la Bastille in Grenoble.  It is as nice as it sounds and I thank my lucky stars every day that we ended up here.  Our landlord owns the building and is the descendant of the guy who invented the iron hand, Xavier Jouvin.  I am not sure how many greats there are before the grandson.

The building has an eclectic bunch of people living and working in it.  There are lots of offices full of architects, museum management, and a couple of young companies and associations.  Also a really lovely couple who I go all wibbly over every time i meet because they are so cool.

Anyhoozle the other evening we went to a little get together organised in the garden of the building.  It is organized once a year and last year we missed it.  We like our neighbours and our landlord and we thought that sharing a few beers and wine together in the balmy September sun would be spiffing.  Also, every morning we cross paths with the people who have offices here so we thought it would be nice to meet them properly.

Last but not least we had the kids and we knew they would love going down to the garden and drinking sirop until their eyes popped out of their heads.

So on Tuesday evening after a long day’s work I went and did the 14 km round trip on my magic bike to collect my son from school, then we both went into town and picked up the necessary to do some baked goodies.  Himself was off duty on Tuesday night as per usual so me and the three kiddie winkles set to filling the kitchen with baking smells and we had great crack inventing goodies to bring to the party.

Kids love that crack and they anticipate everybody enjoying their baked wares as much as any self respecting housewife or husband.  Speaking of which…

The next evening we dusted ourselves off at the appointed hour and headed down to the garden.   It is a walled affair and the words “the secret garden” pop into my head every time I look down at it.  A little piece of heaven in the centre of town.


As with most soirees, it was a wee bit awkward at the beginning because we had to introduce ourselves and, well, talk to people.  But we sucked it up and did quite well all things considered.

We met loads of lovely people.  And I mean lovely.  Good crack they were and brought good food they did.  Also they were swilling away nervously just as much as we were.

However, at one point a tall older gentleman bore down upon us and introduced himself to Vincent and asked him loads of questions about where he worked and what did he do.  Then he proceeded to tell Vincent all about what he did, i.e. director of this museum and that one and very important with his puffing cheeks and belly he was.

I was standing between them and as they are both tall individuals their words literally sailed over my head.  As the minutes passed Vincent grinned at me a few times awkwardly as he knows what I am like, that is to say the devil incarnate when it comes to equality.  Puff daddy on the other hand blissfully ignored me completely, not even any eye contact.  I thought perhaps he would get around to addressing a few polite phrases at me at the end of his conversation with Vincent.  I was ready for it, and I was even prepping myself to answer politely and not rock the boat with our new friends.  Tolerance and all that.

Turns out he wasn’t having any truck with that.  So at the end of their little manno a manno and during the post dialogue lull where everyone is very happy with themselves but nobody knows what to say next I said, yes, well I work at the same place as Vincent.  And yon buffoon actually blustered backed at me “Oh, you mean, you aren’t at home with the children?”.

His reasoning was that we hadn’t crossed paths every morning or something equally vague.  So I informed him politely that we crossed paths very regularly in fact. I also felt like covering my daughter’s ears over just in case he uttered any other inane phrases.

But okay I guess he is more interested in handsome men or whatever. I can’t blame him, Vincent is gorgeous in my opinion.  Probably also in the opinion of the young lady who sidled over to introduce herself to him (and only him) with a winning smile.  At one point, I kid you not,  we were caught in the middle of the pair of them both making eyes at Vincent.  I was the invisible woman.  And I was wearing this dress…


It didn’t matter to me whether he thought I was working at home or not. It was the fact that somehow that gave him the right to talk over my head and ignore me that really pissed me off.

Then, the fact that he made wild assumptions about me was just another step in the wrong direction.  Also he seemed mildly surprised that I even piped up.  He did that roll-back-on-your-heels-puff-your-big-belly-out-raise-your-puffy-grey-eyebrows-up thing that only certain bigger bellied older men can pull off.

Luckily I have never ever been treated like that in work.  Fifteen years working with roughly ninety percent male engineering community and never so much as a tweet.  My colleagues would never be so rude.  Ironic that a dude who is supposed to be teaching the community about history and general culture should be so narrow-minded.

Conclusion?  Puff Daddy shall hereby be referred to as such. And respect to the geeks!!





So – I cut the cheese wrong

So after having written the blog Cheesy Smile and done the little tutorial I then proceeded to cut the cheese exactly the wrong way the very next day.

Full exposure (this is painful); the one on the left – I cut it parallel to the crust instead of perpendicular.  I was busy blethering to himself hence I was distracted.  Which is always fatal in such a scenario.

Cue himself laughing like a devil as I proceeded to try to cut a second slice without shaving bits of finger off. Sigh.

Being one’s self is not always easy.  But somewhere somehow this may encourage some poor soul not to give up hope (because there is always someone worse than you).


Cheesy Smile

Now this is a topic close to everyone’s heart.

So to set the context, most people have had the experience when travelling from London to Venice on the Orient Express: a moment of pure horror when you realise you have committed the ultimate faux pas.

Picture it, you are in the dining car of the Venice-Simplon with your French lover and you energetically lob a bit of Brie off to lather all over your baguette.  Only to glance across the candlelit table and see an expression of horror on the beautiful face of said lover.

The scene of the crime

Followed by a “sacre bleu, you sauvage” and a quick slap across your visog with the other person’s lace glove so dislocating one’s pince-nez.  Thus causing general discomfort and a majeur “moment de solitude”.

And one has no choice but to fold one’s white linen napkin, and say “what-ho, time to scarper gibbety hoo”.

Well if this has happened to you and you are still mystified as to why, then I can tell you.  It was all because you cut your cheese wrong.

Nah I’m exaggerating and I’m definitely reading too much Jeeves and Wooster and/or Agatha Christie.


Anyhoo, I learnt a while back that there is a polite way to cut cheese.  French people do it naturally of course (sigh).  The trick is to cut off the cheese in such a way that you don’t leave a big crust for the next person.  So that they don’t spend an unreasonable amount of time shaving off a crumbly mouldy crust in order to have a decent slice of cheese.

So its all about courteous geometry.  Echoes of the Eiffel tower principle in fact.

Easy !  I hear you say.

Merde!  Say I.

I agree that the principle is straightforward and makes sense.  However cheese in France  comes in all shapes and forms and changes when it ages (as with many things in life). So after a wee while it melts everywhere or grows a second skin or just gets really smelly.


The only thing it doesn’t do is crawl out of the cheese box.

Despite of or rather because of this bacteria plus time process, the cheese gets more delicious as time goes by.  A bit like me.  In terms of beauty.  Probably.  No, all wrong, don’t go there.

Please note cheese on top right which is just starting to bulge and will soon splurge out to its full glory.  Whereupon there will be fights in our house about who gets to eat it.

The crust here smells horrible, am still deciding whether its a primarily fishy or feety smell

So all the different shapes and sizes and crusts and icky feel make the cutting process a bit difficult in the heat of the moment especially if one is chatting to other people or otherwise occupied.   But never fear I have created this trusty tutorial to take you through it like a hot knife through butter.

(french friends prier de ne pas rigoler at himself explaining to me for the fiftieth time how to cut cheese)

And if you think you can get over the problem by not eating the cheese forget it.  It is impossible.  If you are at someone’s house and you have had the main meal an hour ago and dessert is in another hour, and everybody else is going into cheese ecstasy around you – you will end up nibbling on some cheese.   Unless you have a general hatred of cheese or are allergic of course.  I resisted pretty well for a few years but I remember to this day one of my friends saying “ah g’wan, don’t smell it, put it on a wee bit of bread and slug a bit of wine at the same time…”   Yes she did a Mrs Doyle on me.  I was like this is delicious, what’s that other one over there!!  And that was it, I was a goner.  And now I eye mould on cheese and think “yum”!

For the grand finale, my best cheesy grin!!