I don’t make resolutions*, simply because I try not to set myself up for personal disappointment. But I’ve already decided that 2016 will be the year of intentional eating: of quality over quantity, of savouring** over stuffing. (This feeds into my resistance toward dietary labels and detox diets where you can’t drink coffee or eat bread or dairy or anything delicious. You try living in France and not eating bread and see how you like it.)
On my flight down to Aix-en-Provence to celebrate New Years, I began reading Ruth Reichl‘s book “Garlic and Sapphires”, which was recommended to me months ago and has been gathering dust on my bookshelf ever since. Her words are captivating and her relationship with food enlightening, encouraging readers to remember the flavours of a dish rather than ordering seconds.
The more people pay attention to what and how they eat, the more attuned they become to their own senses and the world around them.
Ruth Reichl, Garlic and Sapphires
While in Aix, I popped into my favourite restaurant, Fanny’s. I used to live just around the corner from the small, locally owned bistrot provençal, nestled on a nearly forgotten street, but on such a small salary our meals out were few and far between. The one time we did go to Fanny’s was for lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon in May, when Fanny was serving up daube provençal (similar to bœuf bourgignon) over pasta with a fresh side salad. She buys her produce from the market, the wines are local and bio (organic) and everything is fresh — so fresh that there was no meat on the menu when I returned because the butcher was closed for what I can only presume were extended holidays. All the meat comes from France, and the dishes are filled with the bright flavors of Provence: herbs covering a goat cheese medallion so fresh it crumbles from the touch of a fork, dark olives, and crunchy radishes.
When I returned with only Ruth Reichl to keep me company (not a bad meal companion), I fell in love all over again. The restaurant is so small that it only requires one server. Fanny herself is in the open kitchen cooking up plates for all the diners, frequently leaving her perch to bise an entering customer or ask patrons how they are doing. Bonne années were shared with everyone who enters. She came over to me to ask where I was from (dang it), and returned to check several times after that. If I were ever to open a restaurant, I would want it to be just like Fanny’s.
Now that I’ve twirled my fork around the jambon cru at Fanny’s, the rest of the meals of 2016 have a lot to live up to. But I’ve got “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” fresh on my bookshelf (this will not become a Julie & Julia blog though, promise) and a large pot of herbes de Provence to get me through. There will be more cooking at home, more flavours, and more use from my tiny tiny kitchen.
And so, this will be the year of intentional, or why not, magical*** eating. Miam. ♦
*Ok, this isn’t entirely true. I do have two “resolutions” (you know, a topic starter for at least the next three weeks): 1) to stop forgetting a pen whenever I leave the house, and 2) to stand up straight (this is a repeat from last year that I still haven’t mastered).
**My computer thinks I’m British right now and I’ve been too lazy to change it. So until I do, feel free to read everything with a British accent.
***A little Didion never hurt, either.