My friend, Kathleen, is immersing herself for a month in French language and culture in the south of France. I have long admired her way of diving into experiences, pushing herself to learn new things and getting the most out of every minute.
Here is her story:
Diane, this does not qualify at all as a “recipe” but I wanted to send you something from my “aventure Français” here in Villefranche. Of course it’s customary to stop in to the boulangerie on the way home from class for a fresh baguette — but one person can’t eat the whole thing while it’s still fresh. So, my landlady has supplied a sort of grill pan that is exactly the same as the toaster we use over the campfire at the ranch. She gave me a small tin of beautiful local olive oil and a carton of fleur de sel from the Camargue. I toast a few slices of the not-so-fresh baguette over the gas flame, drizzle it with the olive oil and sprinkle with the fleur de sel. So simple, and so perfect. All that’s left is to pour myself an apéritif, and settle down on my little balcony to watch life unfold in the village at my feet, with small boats bobbing on the blue, blue Mediterranean below. Can this be real?
I have just been reading the excerpt in The Globe and Mail today (November 2, 2011) from Robert Fowler‘s book, A Season in Hell, his personal story about being kidnapped and held for 4 months by al Qaeda in Niger in 2008. When the information first came out about where the abduction took place, my husband and I remembered the area well and could picture the very road on which his nightmare began. We had a very different experience there. Read more
Chefs these days are writing their stories as well as cookbooks and I have been reading some of them recently. Favourites so far are: life, on the line by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas and Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. I was particularly drawn in by Hamilton’s candid account of her journey, often a reluctant one, toward a challenging career as chef owner of world-class restaurant, Prune, in New York. That she was able to write such a compelling memoir about her private and public life while running a restaurant and mothering two children, speaks to her energy, confidence and amazing talent. The overriding message of her book for me is her steadfast belief in the power of food to provide a delicious vehicle for bringing people together for a memorable experience.
I recently re-visited a book that one of our sons gave me a few years ago: The Soul of a New Culture: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavours of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson. It’s funny how a book can come into your life at a time when you are not yet ready to take meaning from it, and for some reason after a rather long unopened stretch on the bookshelf, I picked it up again recently. Read more