I have been a bad, bad blogger.
I don’t know how many of you have actually noticed, but I often drop by here on Saturdays and say something clever about food in France. And this Saturday, I left you in the lurch. I was bad. I apologize.
The ironic thing about this is that I recently got praised to high heavens for my blogging, both here and at my own food blog. Why? Because I’ve forged a connection between the language camp where I work and the Moulin d’Omer that I posted about a few weeks ago. The “meunier,” or miller, and my boss have decided to work together next year to teach the little Americans something about one of the pillars of French culture: bread.
And it doesn’t stop there. This was one of my boss’ dreams when she set up the camp: to create connections with local artisans, specifically those specializing in wine, cheese and bread. So recently, on a trip back from the medieval village of Carcassonne, she was inspired to stop at an artisan cheesemaker’s to see if there was a possibility of creating the same sort of program with him.
I still think it’s so incredible how willing the artisans are to share their craft. We had a tour of the Bertrand Bergé winery here in Paziols a few weeks ago. We didn’t even have an appointment: the woman who works there just offered to explain the entire process to us one afternoon as we were coming back from an excursion to the post office.
The miller at the Moulin d’Omer didn’t have to give the same explanation twice to two different groups of kids, much less listen to me cough out a rough translation in English every two sentences, but he didn’t seem to mind in the slightest.
And the man who worked at the cheese shop certainly didn’t have to reopen the store after he had been closed for more than half an hour to show a group of tired and restless American kids the secrets of the French cheese industry, but he was more than happy to do so.
There’s something about food here in France that drives people and makes them want to go the extra mile, to take an extra step.
Our camp is closed for the summer, and Alex and I are the only ones left in this huge house. Pretty soon, we’ll be gone too, and our summer home will stand empty, at least for a little while. But the memories that the kids, and I, have of this place, of the excursions, the games, and, at least for me, the food, will stay with me throughout the year, reminding me in the cold winter months what it is to taste a freshly picked blackberry from the side of the road, what it’s like to see huge vats of wine in the countryside, and how generous and kind people are, especially when it comes to sharing what they believe to be some of the most important parts of their culture.