Tastes of Life: Cooking in Bordeaux

Lunch in Bordeaux – photo by A. Bowen

Ten years ago, the landscape of my culinary world expanded with an intimate cooking and wine experience in Bordeaux with Jean Pierre and Denise Moullé http://www.twobordelais.com/. I have to be honest and say that I was completely ignorant of what lay ahead in this cooking experience. Friends had interested us in this trip and I was just happy to be taking it. Cooking in France sounded intriguing though not intimidating because I was used to certain elements and styles of European cooking; both my parents were immigrants from Poland. That said, I had little knowledge of all that was ahead of me, especially the chef we were going to be cooking with and learning from. Jean Pierre was well known because, up until his recent retirement, he was for decades the chef at Alice Water’s restaurant Chez Panisse http://www.chezpanisse.com. And his wife Denise’s family – the Lurton’s – are highly respected in the wine industry globally. From the moment we arrived at the La Forge B&B I was charmed by the setting and fell in love with the colors of Bordeaux. I can’t tell you what got more use during this trip – my camera or my taste buds. Both matured in ways I never expected. One thing that trips like this don’t advertise is the amount of wisdom that may be gained from the connections and relationships experienced with people, with nature, with food, with places, and with self.

Artichoke

Artichoke – photo by A. Bowen

I had never seen artichokes in bloom. I had never eaten a baguette for breakfast, or gone to a different outdoor market every day just to select food to be prepared for that day. I could barely hold in my excitement and enthusiasm when we met Jean Pierre at the first outdoor market, shopped and then were taken to his and Denise’s country home to cook in their country kitchen.

Jean Pierre

Jean Pierre, me, and friend – photo by D. Bowen

Copper pots, an open brick oven, kitchen tools and knives, bowls, shelves with spices and unknown ingredients, and baskets of the produce we had selected at the market surrounded us, and the red and white checked plastic tablecloth over the prep area was just perfect in this setting. I felt very much welcome and at home cooking with this chef.

Baskets of produce

Baskets of produce – photo by A. Bowen

There are many more stories to tell about this trip, but today I am reflecting on the synchronicity that reconnected me to that Bordeaux trip; nudged me to go back through all the pictures I took, and to pull out the folder of recipes that we learned to cook there. In doing that I was reminded me of how alive I felt, how curious, how happy, and how blessed and grateful to have such an amazing food and travel experience. What brought me to this moment was that I discovered that Jean Pierre and Denise Moullé had recently published their cookbook “French Roots: Two Cooks, Two Countries, and the Beautiful Food Along the Way.” http://www.amazon.com/French-Roots-Cooks-Countries-Beautiful/dp/160774547X I immediately ordered it. When it arrived I paged through it and felt its beauty. Oh the fond memories it stirred! It felt so true to me, that I ordered two more copies to share with friends. This is more than a cookbook. It is a love story about the places, the food and the relationships this couple have lived. This book validates why our trip was such a lovely and meaningful experience for me; why it stays with me deep in my soul. So much of all that Jean Pierre and Denise engage in is with the deeply felt intention of enjoying life and all it holds together. french roots