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Entries by Janet Hubbard (27)

Friday
Nov152013

My French friends' relationship to food

Two of my closest friends in France, both women, and both single,  are polar opposites when it comes to wine and food. Astrid, who occasionally writes the Savouries articles on this site, grew up in Paris and Champagne in the 70s and 80s. I set my first novel,  CHAMPAGNE: The Farewell, at her family home. Curiuously, I wouldn't consider her parents a major influence on her passion around wine and food. Her mother is part of the Joseph Perrier Champagne group, and Astrid grew up with that lovely champagne always available. But she developed her keen interest in food after she left home. She and her friends in Paris used to follow chefs as they moved from restaurant to restaurant.

Astrid moved to Lille, then to Brussels, and each time I visited I was introduced to regional cuisine. She isn't in the least snobbish about her choices, preferring the small restautants that have a local reputation to the more elegant or famous places. I consider her a gourmet cook, but she scoffs at that. Still, ingredients are carefully selected, and the wine always pairs beautifully. She is currently traveling around Asia and writes a great travel blog. www.astridautourdumonde.com.

Colette, now retired,  grew up in Dunkerque, but has lived in Paris fifty years. She and I go to a restaurant, Chartier, each time I return where the waiter still adds up the bill on the paper tablecloth Alone, "Coco" is not very enamored of food. The same applies to wine. She thinks spending six francs on a bottle is a bit excessive. She doens't have much knowledge about, or interest in, the rare wines I write about in my novel. 

On the other hand, she would almost kill for her late afternoon cup of coffee, and Astrid doesn't like the beverage. Colette meets her friend at the same cafe at around four in the afternoon at least three times a week.  It is common to linger an hour and a half over an espress.

Colette has a house in Brittany,  where friends and famly come often. My daughter and I spent Christmas there several years ago, with eight others. There were delicoius dinners with all of us gathered around the long table, and everyone pitching in. I went with her and her family to pick oysters off the sea rocks, where they slurp them out of the shell. We enjoy going for crepes in the village.

It is wonderful to have such close friends in France.