les intraduisibles : mitonner

The verb mitonner, which means ‘to simmer or cook up slowly’ can be used to talk about someone who is preparing or plotting something, often mischievous. It carries a wonderful sense of a pot bubbling away whilst being lovingly stirred, just as someone may carefully devise or concoct a plan in secret.

A parent might say to a child, for example, “Qu’est-ce que tu mitonnes ?” (“What are you cooking up?”) to imply that they know they are up to some mischief.

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Midsection image of woman stirring food in cooking pot.