I have wanted for some time to go to France on some sort of cooking adventure. I wanted an insider’s view, but I don’t speak French. So when I heard about an American woman who has lived in Southwestern France for thirty years and is teaching charcuterie classes, I was very excited. I had a bit of a pit in my stomach imaging getting around France with nothing but , “oui”, “no” and “merci” up my sleeve. But with snow still piled high in our driveway, I headed off to France.
The name of the school is “The Kitchen at Camont” which is in the beautiful French country home of Kate Hill. It was wonderful. Nothing like the army-like conditions at cooking school or the kitchen slavery of an unpaid internship. This is a five-day, laid back conversation about ancient French cooking techniques, traditions, history, local produce and the ins and outs of pig and duck farming. We cooked, grilled, smoked, ground sausage, made pate, rillettes, shopped for pork and duck at the local butcheries, and spent a day on a pig farm. The people that I met were extremely gracious and we ate a lot of meat.
I think what I love most about this part of the world is the tapestry that makes up the scenery, This is true of the sweeping views from the roadside or of Kate’s beautiful backyard with its flowers, chickens and gardening equipment. It was a feast for the eyes.
As far as the pitfalls of travelling in a country where you do not speak the language, most of the time, I was able to find someone who could help me to get where I needed to be, but not always. I will give you one of a handful of stories from the folder titled “Lost and confused in France”. But I can’t decide if I should tell the story about putting “Serignac” (my destination) into the GPS and only realizing that something was wrong when I started seeing signs for Barcelona (turns out there are as many Serignacs in France as there are Manchesters in New England). That mistake turned a 15 minute drive into a four hour drive. Or, should I tell the one about when I was locked in the hotel (an old monestary) because I didn’t know that they shut the doors and go away at 5:00 pm on Sundays and oops, they forgot to give me the code to the door. Oh well, all part of the adventure.
I’ll be back with a little bit more on what a learned.
It is full on Spring in Paris and Southern France complete with flowering trees, spring flowers and other things that don’t happen in New England until early summer.