This hasn’t been a good week for France and Francophiles around the world with the loss of literary icon and avowed Francophile Peter Mayle and ‘the Pope of french cuisine’ Paul Bocuse. Peter Mayle may be most famous for a Year in Provence, his memoir of moving to Provence from England in the late 80s but he wrote many other famous novels that celebrated not only Provence,
but French culture and the way of life. He also wrote the Good Year, a novel that was made into a movie by his neighbour Ridley Scott. My dad and I watch this movie every chance we get. Not because it is a great movie but because the scenery is stunning and the implication is clear, Provence encourages you to slow down and enjoy your life. http://www.petermayle.com/ Paul Bocuse is incredibly famous and revered for his French food. His restaurant L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges is famous for gaining its 3rd Michelin star in 1965 and keeping it every since (over 52 years) and for founding the Bocuse D’Or, often refereed to as the world culinary Olympics, a cooking competition that takes place in Lyon every 2 years.https://www.bocuse.fr/fr/
It is not just their accomplishments that have left me feeling sad this week but rather the way they both championed French food, culture and way of life. Peter Mayle in particular for me was instrumental in celebrating French, rather Provencal life. His books could easily transport you to Provence, you could almost smell the lavender, see the cafes, taste the wine and food and feel the sunshine. It was a constant reminder for me to slow down, enjoy my food, enjoy my friends and enjoy my life
. I have to admit this is much easier when I travel, especially to Provence. It would be easy to say, of course it is easier when you travel, you are on vacation. That said, Provence has enjoyment, love of life and time built into the culture. Businesses close in the early afternoon for either long lunches or a nap, the patisseries open early in the morning for french bread and pastries, the markets are full of the wonderful scents of fresh fruit, olives, tomatoes. Lunches are not the quick sandwich at a desk I am used to here but rather often 3 courses with wine on a patio. There is not talk of carbs, calories, fat etc.. Just enjoyment of fresh food that is also freshly prepared. This isn’t to say fast food or calories counting doesn’t exist in Provence, it just isn’t the norm. My favourite memories of Provence are exactly what Peter Mayle describes sitting on the terrace of Le Jardin in Gordes,https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g187248-d2262447-r172101039-Le_Jardin-Gordes_Luberon_Vaucluse_Provence_Alpes_Cote_d_Azur.html enjoying a fabulous salad at L’Orangeraie in the Ile de Porquerolles, or enjoying the fabulous wine and charcuterie at Restaurant l’Instant in Le Lavandou , http://www.restaurantlinstant.sitew.com/#ACCUEIL.A attending the weekly market in l’Ile Sur La Sorgue or tasting wine anywhere and everywhere. I love Provence not only for its beauty and culture but the reminder to slow down and enjoy what life has to offer.
Paul Bocuse on the other hand was based in France’s gastronomic capital Lyon. Though I haven’t eaten at his restaurant, reading about him, his food and watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode where he eats with Paul Bocuse. Paul Bocuse inspired me to try new dishes, not to be afraid of unusual ingredients, appreciate classic cooking and ignore food trends. Rather to eat what you want and appreciate it for the food rather than because it is trendy (looking at you kale, which I still hate). In short, Paul Bocuse inspired me to enjoy food for foods sake and understand the importance of quality ingredients. I would argue the use of quality ingredients is very prevalent in France.
Peter Mayle wrote in a Year in Provence
“And, as for the oil, it is a masterpiece. You’ll see.”Before dinner that night, we tested it, dripping it onto slices of bread that had been rubbed with the flesh of tomatoes. It was like eating sunshine.”
This quote in all its simplicity constant reminder to me to slow down, enjoy food, enjoy friends, enjoy scenery and most importantly enjoy Provence.