You will never get out of pot or pan anything
fundamentally better than what went into it.
Cooking is not alchemy; there is
no magic in the pot.
- Martha McCulloch-Williams, Dishes & Beverages of The Old South, 1913
Supermarkets are rather a newfangled affair in France, having come to fruition, caught on and spread like wildfire sometime during the 1990's, during our stay in Italy, when we were out of the country, surprising us upon our return. My husband, like all Frenchmen and women of his generation, like the generations before them, grew up shopping at the market and small artisan shops, the butcher, the baker, the cheese and the fishmonger, the mom-and-pop corner shop for dry goods. They were not ready for the supermarket explosion.
They were remarkably fresh, too, notwithstanding their great exertions: for, on the appearance of the dessert, they broke out again, as if nothing serious had taken place since breakfast.
– Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby
France has certainly been wrapped up, engrossed and submerged in World Cup soccer. Football. After France's colossal win in 1998 that united a country and their fall from grace in 2010, embarrassing an entire country, the newly formed and coached team, seemingly humbler, more cohesive and definitely playing better for it, has entranced the French. The performance of Les Bleus has gripped a nation. The cheers rise up in unison across our city, throughout the country, swell and push out from living rooms and bars and into the streets, the squares, the excitement and energy palpable, making this World Cup even more exciting.
The rain has finally stopped, more or less, and the days are clear, warm and summery, more or less. At about the same hour each afternoon, we slip into our light weather jackets and slip out of the apartment for a stroll.
A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority,
from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.
- Samuel Johnson
Tuscany is drunk with memories. Seven years of our lives in Italy, the odd weekend or holiday in the sage green hills and silver-tipped olive trees of Tuscany, fill the cup and overflow and I am back here after much too long a separation. Flooded with sensations, the warm sun on my skin (after chilly, rainy days in France) tickling out souvenirs of driving these same roads next to my husband, two little toddlers asleep in the back seat.
- from Plated Stories Tuscany (with photos by Ilva Beretta)
I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.
- W.C. Fields
Bread, wine and cheese, the Frenchman's favorite meal, I kid you not. How often does this make a meal in our home, with the addition of fresh fruit at the end? In winter, add a steaming, warming bowl of soup. In summer, a cool salad. But really, even those are not necessary for my Frenchmen to be happy and satisfied. Bread, wine and cheese.
Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met.
― Marguerite Duras
The first time we brought him to the hospital he was not more than two. His babble led us to believe that our little angel, our devil boy, had swallowed a coin. A visit to the hospital and we were sent home to wait. Patience tainted with worry, colored by fear. And he pooped out that tiny copper coin like a bog boy.
I have full confidence in
your courage and devotion to duty and skill in
battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
― Dwight D.
Since returning home from the first Plated Stories Workshop, things have been booming! Nantes is a hotbed of activity with the arrival of the Giants of the Royal Deluxe street theater, not to mention the arrival of summer! France, Europe, celebrated the 70th anniversary of the D Day Invasion and the liberation as heads of state, presidents, royalty and veterans gathered on the beaches of Normandy and in the cemeteries for speeches, the laying of wreaths, reenactments and commemorations. Yet with all of the distractions – and my husband has been claiming my attention and company after my having been away for a week – I have been working furiously, happily on my book proposal.
One might expect an ambiance of reflection and solemnity on the anniversary of D Day.
Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.
- Chinese proverb
I can swoon over the wonders of our weekend in Tuscany; I can expatiate on the talents of our Plated Stories Workshop participants, expound on their humor and creativity; I can discuss how well we all thought it went… endlessly if you ask me. The give and take of information and inspiration, the back and forth of ideas and insight, bottle of red after bottle of red followed by dessert and the voices and the laughter rang out long and far into the night.