Home    Classes    Tidbits    Pickle Power    What’s this?    Links    About


Exploring Provence

When I was fourteen, I spent a summer on exchange in the town of La Ciotat, a relatively sleepy town on the southern coast of France. Its claim to fame include being the site where that quintessentially French game, Pétanque, was invented and where, more importantly for Americans, the Lumière brothers screened their first animated film.

In my own small life, La Ciotat was the place where my palate was first challenged.  There, I tasted my first anchovy, my first aged cheese, nibbled my first lamb chop and finished—slowly—my first glass of wine.  It was my luck to be fed well and often by my host brother, François, who just happened to be apprenticed at a local restaurant. To him I owe the realization that one could actually cook for a living!

Blessed with two weeks to visit France again, with the same big appetite augmented by a career in food and a husband willing to brave traffic circles in a tiny Fiat, I decided to skip the Louvre and head straight south to the land of sunshine.

We drove from village to village according to the day’s whim, finding shelter each night in places as diverse as a 11th-century abbey and a Smurf-themed, shaggy-carpeted room above a bar.

Visiting the farmers market in Apt to shop for a picnic lunch counted as one of the highlights of our trip.

May 2000