I honestly think the older I get, the harder that jetlag thing becomes. Maybe it is simply that each time it becomes a tad bit more significant in emotions and events. I did give myself the weekend off to do the mundane "back from vacation" routine and spend some time with B. and our friends getting re-adjusted.
I also took time to write down some sort of schedule as my work time is pretty much spoken for until this April. I look forward to come here on this page and unwind with more recipes and stories!
In that spirit and to tell you "Thank you" from the bottom of my heart for reading, laughing, frowning and smiling with me, I put together a little basket of French goodies I picked up on my trip to give away today. Head to the end of the post for instructions on how to enter...!
In the meantime, on to the Southern part of my trip back home. I do hope my aunt and uncle won't mind my posting about their gorgeous home and the wonderful meal we had when we stopped there on our way from the Alps to Aix-En-Provence. I am so proud of the work they have done, I can't help share some pictures.
I have always thought my aunt Agnes should have been a stylist or an interior decorator and this visit proved it once again. They basically bought a ruin in Provence with 4 walls, a roof and pretty much nothing you could call a home inside. Today, they have turned it into possibly the most peaceful retreat one could think of.
I don't tend to carry my camera to every meal I attend but I knew that lunch at their place would be the perfect opportunity to make you part of an everyday meal for us. French food and cooking is always surprising. A perfect mix of intricate, controlled preparations, detailed methods and a more relaxed, everyday cooking which makes going out a true fete and dining in a celebration of simplicity.
With the myriad of regions, provinces and history in France, it's not uncommon for visitors to go a tad bit crazy over the fantastic food. I know I do everytime I come home but really French cooking is nothing but a strong appreciation for seasonal foods and the cooking methods that bring out the best of it. Simple, fresh, fragrant. And Provence is naturally perfect for that.
I just wrote myself a sticky note to ask my aunt for her confit de carottes recipe. Melt in your mouth slow cooked carrots that held their shape perfectly right up until you'd close your mouth upon them. Then it was an explosion of sweet and savory, garlic flower and thyme.
We ate and drank and took our time to appreciate the scenery before us. So much so that we made our way to Aix-En-Provence in the later part of the afternoon. The sun falling down over the city was casting a gorgeous golden glow on the house fronts and pebbled streets.
Going back there was a treat for all of us. My father went to school at the Institute of Political Studies there and got a bit emotional showing me his first apartment right on the Cours Mirabeau. We spent quite a bit of time in that area retracing steps to stores, restaurants, and other places we used to visit.
Things have inevitably changed since we used to live in the area but a few things remain as we remembered. The markets, the plazas, sitting at a cafe listening to an open air classical concert. Fountains, facades, shops...it was good to be back even for such a short stop but we had somewhere more important to be.
Going back to my old village of Calas-Cabries was amazing in ways I can't explain. In the five minutes I was out of the car, everything came back. The streets, the turns, the walkways, the shortcuts. My first bike fall, my first crush, my first dive...Trees and bushes had taken over the front lawn in my old house and that was just as well. I could almost hear us play in the pampa's grass again and not think about the pool newly installed.
Time and life change things. I did not expect anything upon returning home. Expectations ruin things most of the time. The old village had not changed however. The church where I did my communions, the central plaza where I did my ballet recitals. All these years spent there becoming the person I am today. I finally started making sense of myself to myself.
The chapel on the hill where we'd have Scouts meetings. It was good to be home and take a walk under the pine trees and to hear the kids running around at recess. Nothing like a trip home to reset the human clocks right.
It's good to be home now although I am already planning another couple of trips out West! First is BlogHer Food in San Francisco October 8th and 9th. I am honored to be back as a speaker on a photography panel with my buddy Jen from Use Real Butter as we share the same view about conferences being teaching tools not mere presentations of what is or should be. Sharing is key. We hope to see you there!