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French Word A Week – Topinambour


It hit me the other day at the store that it was taking me longer and longer each year to remember a few French words. Primarily because they were already rarely part of my vocabulary but I realize that they are as much fun to remember as they are for Bill to pronounce and learn.

In the spirit of sharing and remembering, practicing and growing I have decided to start a new category to this blog, related to food of course, a "French Word A Week" type thing.

Today’s word is "topinambour" a.k.a sunchoke or Jerusalem artichoke. (listen to the pronunciation here)

That word in French always make me smile and hearing Bill say it is even cuter. And you know what…they are delicious! I wish my mom had cooked more with them when we were kids, but now I do everytime they appear at the market. Stay tuned for an upcoming recipe with sunchokes. Won’t be dessert though!

P.S: I realize I forgot to add the recipe instructions in French for the Chocolate Whiskey Pots de Creme the other day and will remedy that tonight.

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Jessica March 18, 2010 um 8:05 pm

I have some French in me, but don't know any French! I would love to learn some. 🙂

El March 18, 2010 um 8:10 pm

I love this idea. It's great to learn new words…especially in French!

Maria March 18, 2010 um 8:10 pm

Love this post. I took French in high school, but that means nothing:) I will following along so I can improve my French vocabulary. Thanks! I hope you keep having fun with your parents. They sound amazing! Enjoy!

Jenn March 18, 2010 um 8:14 pm

Great idea! This is going to help me out so much when I go to the market – I'm sure the woman I buy my produce from is tired of me each week asking her what the word for everything is and how to say it by now….

Hmm I've actually never cooked with Jerusalem artichokes – I will have to remedy this, looking forward to your recipe!

Anonymous March 18, 2010 um 8:27 pm

i love topinambur! i make a mean topinambur and potato soup (even if i say so).

m March 18, 2010 um 8:36 pm

They kind of look like potatoes, but I'm guessing they taste more like artichokes?

Scott Morris March 18, 2010 um 9:23 pm

I discovered sunchokes for myself a few weeks ago and really liked them. While the French word is cool, the English "sunchoke" is pretty awesome as well. I can't wait for the recipes with them.

As always, your photography is amazing.

Styling by Coty Farquhar March 18, 2010 um 10:24 pm

Hi Helen,

It has been quite a while since I have left a comment for you, our lives seem to just get busier and busier.

Your work and styling is so very divine and each one of your stories are so beautifully unique.

We really must meet one day, that's if you ever come to Australia. I know we would have alot to talk about.

Today I am looking at a studio (the same studio I had over 12 years ago) so I can finally move my work out of the house. My children are nearly finished their school years and as much as it's been nice to be working from home, we styists collect toooooo many things and my family want the dining room back and the rest of the house, my props have taken over.

Have a wonderful day,
xx Coty Farquhar

Anh March 18, 2010 um 10:53 pm

Love the idea, Helen.

You will be amazed how many French words are used in the Vietnamese language. We localise them of course 😀

molly March 18, 2010 um 11:11 pm

Ah, sunchokes! Or Jerusalem artichokes, or topinambour, or call them what you will, they are nutty sweet crunchy crisp marvels, no? Roasted, mashed, pureed, souped up, they are ever so lovely.

Anonymous March 18, 2010 um 11:41 pm

Great idea = thanks. I had a new French teacher almost every year of school from fourth grade through tenth, and each teacher taught first year French. Finally, in college, I got a second year, but the teacher's accent was so abysmal that I should have just taken another first year class. One day . . . this is a start for one of the more important areas – food.

debby emadian March 18, 2010 um 11:47 pm

French is a beautiful language and it seems to pop up everywhere….my husband is Persian and always speaks of his 'robe de chambre' and thanks me with 'merci'…..I'm sure your husband sounds cute when he says 'topinambour'….but just wait till your daughter says it that will melt your heart….

my spatula March 19, 2010 um 12:01 am

i love the sound of this word – i'm going to be saying it all for the rest of the evening now! 🙂

Rachael Hutchings March 19, 2010 um 12:06 am

Such a great word! This is one I've never learned…never had to use it! But then again, when I lived in France, I was in Paris…I don't remember ever even seeing one!

Julie March 19, 2010 um 12:06 am

It has been a life long dream to learn to speak French. Now, perhaps I may achieve it, one word at a time! This is a great idea and one more reason to visit your delightful site. Thank you…

Julie March 19, 2010 um 12:11 am

It has been a lifelong dream to learn to speak French. Now, perhaps I may achieve it, one word at a time! This is a great idea and provides yet another reason to visit your delightful site. Thank you…

Lori March 19, 2010 um 2:03 am

Neat word.

I recently bought a Celine Dion 2 cd French songs. I love it. I listen to it constantly. When I am alone I pretend I actually know French and sing along as if I had a clue.

Kate at Serendipity March 19, 2010 um 7:13 am

Oh, Helene, I have the opposite problem–I sometimes struggle to find the English word for something. I wonder if we ever totally lose our mother tongue, though. I hope not!

We have topinambours here, and they're wonderful. I never saw them when I lived in the US, but they're at all the markets when they're in season. We eat them often.

After 9 years, I'm still learning French vocabulary. I never know, though, if it's French-french or Belgian-french. I always have to ask my friend who's a French teacher. I've recently discovered Jacques Brel, and I'm learning some interesting vocabulary from him…

Thanks for this post. I'm looking forward to the vocabulary lessons. AND the topinambour recipes!

Bon weekend.

bigjobsboard March 19, 2010 um 11:19 am

I think i just twisted my tongue here. LOL. Anyways, I tried those artichokes before and I totally agree with you. I recommend everyone to try those.

Avril March 19, 2010 um 12:40 pm

Ahhhhh this is wonderful! I am so loving this post – it just makes me so HAPPY!!! My mother is French (we have most of our family in Provence) and it just warms my heart to hear/see others that enjoy French as much as I do. What a wonderful site you have linked to….so much fun! 🙂

Jolette March 19, 2010 um 12:46 pm

I studied French for two years at university but never came across "topinambour"… On the photo they look kind of like sweet potatoes. What do you do with them?

bunkycooks March 19, 2010 um 1:55 pm

I have studied French with Rosetta Stone twice (each for a trip to France). I do well while I am there and then forget most everything once home. French is such a beautiful language. I wish we heard more of it in the US. I will look forward to hearing the word of the week!

Pastrychefgrl March 19, 2010 um 3:05 pm

Thats so cool I went and listened to it I would LOVE to learn french Ill keep checking it out as long as you keep posting it!! :o)

Deana Sidney March 19, 2010 um 3:10 pm

I have always hated the name sunchoke.. it felt phony like some corporate idea and the image of choking the sun…not good for such a lovely plant!!! I am adding this word to my vocabulary and henceforth, it shall be called topinambour

Serena March 19, 2010 um 3:17 pm

In italian too they are called topinambour, which is also the name I gave to my hamster, as "topina" in italian means "little mouse"! NB: I do love your blog!

Truly Smitten March 19, 2010 um 4:49 pm

this sounds like a great idea! I would love to learn more vocabs in french. I took 8 years of it but I am losing my knowledge =(. Can't wait to learn more! Happy Friday!

mat March 19, 2010 um 5:03 pm

Nice photo and nice theme 😉
we (in fact, i'm from paris) also call it "légume oublié" which means the forgotten vegetable

mat March 19, 2010 um 5:18 pm

Nice word indeed ! we (i'm parisian;) also call it "légume oublié" which means forgotten vegetable
thanks for the picture, so nice !

Sarah March 19, 2010 um 6:23 pm

!!! I made macarons! I thought of you the whole time! I know this is completely unrelated to this post, but I needed you to know! I'll be blogging my experience soon.

Also, on a related note, I was an exchange student in France in high school, and I hate to say now that I don't remember sooo much of my French. I want to move back for another 6 months so I can learn it all over again.

[email protected] March 19, 2010 um 7:13 pm

It's a great idea but you did not start with the easiest, albeit tres joli, word!! Ohlalala!

Kitchen M March 20, 2010 um 5:04 am

I'm Japanese and I know exactly how you feel… Sometimes I'll be stuck for hours trying to remember a word. I truly admire people who can master so many different languages. I can hardly keep up with two!!

Beth March 21, 2010 um 3:36 am

what an interesting looking 'choke! I would love to try one!

Unknown March 21, 2010 um 6:24 pm

Hi, Helen!

You blog is wonderful and inspiring!!! I tried a lot of your recipes and they were all amazingly delicious and inspiring!

And the topinambour is my discovery this year! The only difficulty with them is peeling/washing/cleaning… how do you manage this?

Thank you for recipes!!!

Unknown March 29, 2010 um 8:05 pm

love your pronunciation

would you say POTIMARRON ?

a french cooker


Julia @Mélanger April 6, 2010 um 4:21 am

I love your French word a week theme. I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to learn French for a while now, so another good read for me!

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