No idea what to expect, but I knew I wanted to do a cooking class. I took my first cooking class abroad in 2012 in Istanbul with Selin & her company, Turkish Flavors. It changed me. I loved being in someone else’s kitchen, hearing their stories, watching their tricks, examining their layout and tools, finding out methods and secrets. The smells and the laughter still fill my senses today. My memories are visceral experiences and all I have to do is smell the Ottoman spice or see my bottle of Pomegranate syrup to be transported back to that moment on the top floor of another’s kitchen in such a beautiful, vibrant and rich city.
Anne’s cooking experience* was another great notch in my food-and-travel belt. You have to see the roof first. View of Sacré Couer. Coffee and tea. Parisian hot chocolate (can you say OH MY GOD?).
We started with a visit to her favorite bakery, Panifica, where the loaves are hand made and low in gluten (be sure to read David Lebovitz’s blog post). (Fortunately–or unfortunately for me since I can’t revisit–the bakery closed the following day for the summer holiday which lasts well into August.)
She loaded-up on goods for our morning and we headed back to her house where we made fresh butter with 40% fat cream (Yes. I said 40% fat) and Financiers. Amazingly scrumptious food.
My husband will tell you I’m the last person to step into the spotlight. I seriously hate it and have vivid memories of acting very pissy because I was forced to do something in front of others. “Aversion” does not come close as a descriptor. But for some reason, when Anne asked if anyone wanted to help, I jumped up and said, “I’ll do it.” Something about cooking in Paris? Maybe that was the catalyst that propelled me off the barstool.
But the best part? Being in the moment with other people who all love a food experience and having the attention of a gracious host who not only is accomplished, but who also is real. Like a real person. Often we see these people from afar in magazines and books and on websites and feel like “wow…” But they are real. They have real kitchens. Real stories. They have homes that are richly loved, and of course cooking tools to covet. And most importantly, they have learned from experience. Neither Selin nor Anne conveyed an elite air or some sort of Le Cordon Bleu know-how that they graciously are bestowing on the commoners. They speak of jobs and children. They talk about the way “they” like to do “it,” even if their way is not the “proper” way. This not only makes the experience one worth savoring, but it gives me license to own “my way,” whether or not it’s proper.
And the financiers were to-die-for. My tombstone reads “she died tasting decadence.”
* Follow Anne on Instagram at ann_iscooking