Bonjour! It’s your jetlagged friend, just back from France, where I was teaching in Chinon with Jamie Schler and vacationing with my husband in Paris.
Both of us have written essays for years (and blog posts, which, by default, are personal essays). Usually I stick to food writing basics like writing cookbooks and recipes, writing food blogs, and getting published. So this was a little different, but just as enjoyable.
As in our previous workshop, we met each day in the breakfast room of Jamie’s beautiful Hotel Diterot, located in a medieval village in the Loire Valley. Our group of students came from the U.S., Canada, France, Brazil and Ireland. We wrote, studied, ate and drank well and contemplated the mysteries of writing about oneself — what to say and what not to say. Teaching food memoir includes showing how to engage emotions and relatability through storytelling.
Here’s a glimpse of our food memoir workshop:
Another group came in to one of the restaurants we visited with guitars and began to sing. One of our students walked over, grabbed a guitar and sang a beautiful song to them, written by a friend.
As for eating and drinking, well, how can you go wrong? Jamie’s breakfasts include her famous jams, goat cheese, croissants and toasted brioche. We had meals out at two local restaurants, where we ate French specialties including foie gras, blanquette du veau, savory quiches, fruit tarts, and cheeses.
Chateau du Petit-Thouars is famous for its local Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc wines. On an outing there, we met a young couple who took over a chateau. It had been in the husband’s family for centuries. After a tour of the grounds, wine caves and a tasting, we had lunch in a converted horse stable: oxtail stew, risotto, grated carrot salad, cheeses and a local speciality, apple tart covered in a wine glaze.
Our group of students, in front of Jamie’s beautiful hotel. From left, Ann Wilson, Becky Lillywhite, Belinda Smith-Sullivan, Lynette Colosimo Jolicoeur, me, Jamie, Sandrine Orban, Betina Mariante Cardoso, Kate Ryan, Marian Dodds and Janet Haney. (Photo by Owen Rubin)
After our workshop, a few of us went on to Paris. On our first night, our group ate dinner at Bouillon Pigalle. It’s a fun French restaurant that reminded us of a big New York deli, with its tile floors and waiters rushing by. Later I met food blogger and cookbook author David Lebovitz for lunch at Holybelly, which specializes in good coffee and American breakfasts. Otherwise it was a fast few days of taking in museums, shops, cafes and walking along boulevards like flaneurs.