“Life itself is the proper binge” – Julia Child
Provence in the Summer…
Upon arriving at the Chateau after my uphill workout, I was given the task of making a Cherry Clafoutis. This was a typical French dessert which was essentially a thick pancake, embedded with whatever fruit was in season. This would serve as our lunch dessert. After preparing the clafoutis, I would assist the others in making traditional Soup au Pistou (a white bean and vegetable stew topped with fresh pesto). So the premise was, that we would cook dishes together under Patricia’s instruction and recipes and then we would spend two hours dining over our creations for both lunch and dinner. We were given aprons and recipe books with our names on them. The wine was opened at 11:30 AM and we were given a small glass to enjoy while cooking, before lunch would commence. If our recipes called for fresh herbs, tomatoes or olives we would search the gardens on the property to find them. This was a luxury retreat with a light cooking agenda mixed in and it was my perfect form of meditation.
That day at the Chateau I had also discovered that Julia Child had given Patricia Wells one of her stoves years ago. It was located in one of the kitchens in the Chateau and I was going to get to prepare a meal on it! What? This was music to my ears. I walked into the kitchen dedicated to Julia in the farmhouse and was almost over-swept with emotion. Pictures of Julia Child lined the walls, and there was even a letter from her addressed to Patricia. Julia Child was one of my greatest inspirations. She moved to Paris at 50 years old, started a career in food that would vastly change how Americans viewed French cuisine and cooking. I was somewhat taken aback by how Patricia described their friendship acting blasé…I felt a deep sense of history and chills formed at the back of my neck.
The next few days spent at the Chateau were simply divine. I soaked up every moment of everyday exhilarated in pure pleasure. By this time, I had gotten close with the ladies and I had shared over lunch one day my next chapter and the thought of moving to Paris. Everyone was flabbergasted and overjoyed hearing me talk about it. I vividly recall Patricia Well’s turning to look at me across the table and saying, “Go to Paris. If you even have to ask yourself, should I go? you don’t deserve to. The answer is an absolute YES.”
I knew she was right. Absolute yes.
For those that don’t know Patricia Wells is a famous author of numerous food-related books. Her book Patricia Wells at Home in Provence (1996) won the James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook. She splits her time between Paris and Provence …