April means tulips at Giverny – photo – Karen Anderson
impressions of tulips? – photo – Karen Anderson
The first time I went to Giverny – and inside the high walls surrounding Claude Monet’s home and garden – it was May. Iris were everywhere.
They were tall and sparkling with dew in shades of mauve, purple, yellow and white. They took the lead in a joyful song of spring with lilacs and wisteria as voluptuous back up singers. My mind grabbed that purple haze of flowers and sealed it away. Irises became synonymous with Giverny for me. I never thought of how it would be the rest of the year. My recent visit was an epiphany.
April means tulips at Giverny.
The iris were only thinking about their diva-ish debut. The wisteria were wistfully waking, the lilacs were racing the apple blossoms for heightening senses with their scents-ability.
I think I’ll need to go every month of the year to truly understand the beauty of Monet’s intricate masterpiece. This visit was the fulfillment of an innocent wish made at another time and another place – far from Paris or Giverny. I’ll tell you a bit about that before I share some of the photos I took of Monet’s true masterpiece.
My friends at Succulent Paris enjoying the treats I brought them from Alberta – photo – Kim Irving
My friends Marion Willard and Aurélie Mahoudeau of Succulent Paris food tours are wonderful cooks who love to share their passion with visitors to their city. This post will highlight a day where I booked them for a private gourmet tour. We met for coffee, shopped on Rue de Levis near their home and then prepared a seasonal multi-course gastronomic meal
Cooking with Willard and Mahoudeau is a joyous occasion. Sitting down and sharing a meal together even more so. I hope that you’ll see that in the photos I’ll share here and that you’ll try some of the recipes as well. If they all seem a bit too much skip ahead to the next post where I share a ridiculously easy and fun Mug Cake that anyone can make and enjoy. It’s all good.
I’m just back from Paris.
I had the opportunity during my visit to spend a day shopping and cooking a multi-course French meal with my friends Marion Willard and Aurélie Mahoudeau of Succulent Paris. For my Parisian friends, this is a daily occurrence. They have culinary skills that have been passed down through the generations of their families. They learned to cook both at extensive family gatherings and in the day-to-day preparation of meals with their parents. They enjoy shopping daily for what is fresh and in season and they use their culinary skills to pull together meals to celebrate those ingredients.
While this is la vie quotidienne (daily life) for my two friends in the food business, cooking a multi-course meal is no longer taken for granted by French families. Families in France also have two partners working outside the home, just like other families around the world, and here in Alberta. This means that their children and ours have less access to cooking mentors than previous generations.
The French government nominated The Gastronomic Meal to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage values in 2008 (it was accepted in 2010) in an effort to preserve its essence – taking time to care and enjoy family and life through gathering at the table to share a thoughtfully prepared meal. The traditional preparation of Kimchi in Korea is currently being considered for UNESCO’s list and Japanese and traditional Mexican cuisine have also already been accepted to the list.
The French realize future generations will need help to sustain this part of their culture due to the evolution of modern family life so they are working with UNESCO to save this intangible part of their heritage. As children’s health advocate Jamie Oliver puts forth in his Food Day Revolution, the life skill of cooking is necessary to the health of future generations. Suddenly, the intangible values surrounding a culture’s way of eating become very tangible supports for a healthy lifestyle when their manifestation has this outcome.
This post will talk a bit more about what’s involved in The Gastronomic Meal of the French and how the values it embodies translate to resilience needed for daily life.
perfect soufflé at Alaine Ducasse’s Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower
photo – Karen Anderson
Here’s an article I wrote on the top things for food lovers to do when visiting Paris. It will serve as the finale in this series of posts on my best Paris experiences.
I wrote it for City Palate magazine in 2010 but I think the ideas are just as fun now. Of course, I’d be more than willing to go to do more research…just to be sure.
Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series and that you’ll enjoy reading this article entitled The Power of Ten. The joy I have in memories of these Paris experiences enriches my life and helps me Savour it All. I hope that by sharing these stories I’ve shared a little of that joie de vivre with you. (just click on this pdf to read the piece)
Aurelie Mahoudeau and Marion Willard of Succulent Paris
photo – Karen Anderson
I’m continuing my Springtime in Paris theme by sharing some of the stories I’ve written about the world’s most visited city.
One of the best days I’ve ever spent was a day in Paris when my sister Sue and I shopped and cooked with two Parisians – in their neighbourhood market and in their kitchen. It was glorious for me. I had to keep pinching myself that entire day to make sure it was not a dream and I had to write about it.
The article I wrote was called Succulent Paris and it was published by Bonjour Paris and editor/founder Karen Fawcett. Succulent Paris is also the name of the food touring company that delivered this fantastic life experience. We’ve stayed friends and I hope you’ll check out their wonderful tours the next time you visit Paris.
Let the story that follows wet your appetite to do so…
Market fresh lemons
photo – Karen Anderson
This post continues my current theme of visiting Paris via the articles I’ve written about it. This one is a favourites for a few reasons.
It is the first article I ever published – it came out in the travel issue of City Palate magazine in the spring of 2007. It is called, Mr. Hockey goes into the belly of Paris and it recounts a time when I convinced a friend to get up at 4:30 in the morning to visit the world’s largest food market in Paris with me. Some of the facts may have changed since the article was published but I still love this piece because it describes a side of Paris that few people ever get to see.
I love this piece most of all because it’s humorous. I am not a fiction writer. If you find it funny, it’s because it really was quite the entertaining day in my life.
I hope it give you a chuckle…
Chestnut blossoms – photo credit – Karen Anderson
This week I’m remembering all the wonderful trips I’ve had to Paris.
I’m thinking about chestnut trees laden with miniature pink and white trees of blooms and a milder, more gentle climate. I’m thinking of the softness of the city of lights viewed from a Bateau Mouche chugging along the Seine versus the excitement of watching the spectacle of the nightly laser light show of the Eiffel Tower. I’m remembering long strolls along pretty avenues lined with buildings the colours of softly melting butter. I’m reaching out for the freedom of stopping to sip an early morning coffee or late afternoon wine in a cafe and for days when that was all I had to do. I’m remembering trips with friends, my husband, my older sister and my son. All were quite splendid.
I’m not going to make it to Paris this spring so I thought it would be fun to relive some of the adventures I’ve had there – here on these pages – with you.
Sharing my passion for Paris with you is almost as good as being there myself. So here’s another installation from some of the work I’ve published on this topic. This is an article about a wonderful family trip that was published in The Calgary Herald a few years ago. I wrote it with the hope that other families might find some of the tips fun and useful. Many people have been kind enough to say it was. That’s always a very good day in a writer’s life.
Here we go…