A family’s testament of endurance in occupied Amsterdam
Talking Location With… author Carole Bumpus – FRANCE
15th October 2020
TalkingLocationWith... Carole Bumpus, author of Searching For Family and Traditions at the French Table (Book 2)
Once I retired as a family therapist, my husband suggested we take a month to travel through Italy. Two years before, we had spent time in the South of France for a couple of weeks, and I was excited to have the opportunity to experience another country and its culture at a deeper level. This trip only whetted my appetite to travel even more, but with a purpose. I wanted to learn what it was like to live in ‘those’ homes, in ‘those’ villages, on those cobblestone streets. And I wondered what traditional foods brought their families together at the table. So, my journey began. And, after twenty years and five books written, I am still as curious as ever about how foods, traditions and families come together to celebrate life. My quest for travel and the search for family recipes has not diminished—despite the pandemic.
Once I returned from Italy, I began taking cooking classes and was able to travel back to Provençe and Italy on cooking tours and even began helping to set up cooking tours. All the while, I found myself interviewing families and individuals about their families’ favorite foods. (Once a family therapist, always a family therapist, I suppose.) You see, I was curious about what brought families together at the table. So, I decided to focus on that simple question.
In my own hometown in California, I put the word out and in no time at all, I connected with a French ex-pat, Josiane, and her mother, Marcelle, who were not only willing to teach me about French cooking, but we set up a tour through the regions of France to discover the culinary gems from each. It was a dream come true. Shortly before the trip was to begin, Marcelle passed away, so the trip became a ‘memorial tour’ on her behalf.
In my Savoring the Olde Ways series, Book One and Two, called Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, you will be able to travel along with Josiane and me through the regions of France where she grew up and to visit her family and friends, all the while collecting favorite recipes, stories, and treasured traditions. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn to cook “French” which as it turns out is not haute cuisine one expects to find in the restaurants, but is known as cuisine pauvre or peasant cooking, which connects the traditional recipes to family. (Recipes can be found at the back of the book.)
One particular charming encounter was at the beginning of my tour in the Champagne region of France, just to the east of Paris, and at Josiane’s cousin’s home. He was designated to give me my first French cooking class. With great anticipation and energy, I arrived with pen, paper, and a tape recorder at the ready. And, as we began, he, along with his darling wife, began whirling through the kitchen and out to the dining room to teach me how to prepare homemade Capelettes Farcis aux Epinards avec Sauce Bolognaise or spinach-stuffed tortellini smothered in Bolognaise Sauce. Well, I was a bit surprised! I had come to learn how to cook in the French manner, and he began by teaching me a perfectly delectable, but Italian dish.
“Ah,” he said, matter-of-factly, “this speaks of where Josiane and I grew up. You see, we were raised in a little village in the Lorraine where the only work around for many miles was in the iron mines. After WWII was over, our little village offered work for families across Europe. Our neighbors came from Poland, Italy, Germany, throughout France, and even Algeria to find work. And, if you can imagine, when we were children walking down those village streets to and from school, the aromas we were smelling . . . Oh, là, là! They were coming from Polish homes, Italian homes, German homes, and Algerian homes. Why, we had an entire United Nations of culinary pleasures right outside our door. I learned to cook pasta from my next-door neighbor who was Italian, because she offered to share her recipes with my mother. We never realized until after we each moved away from that little town that those foods were not even French. Poof! They did come from a French village.” His laughter rang out into the room.
That was the first of many cooking classes as I traveled back and forth across France, and each recipe became a litany of not just favorite foods, but regional preferences, historical significance, family stories, and traditional celebrations. You see, if you travel with your mind and palette open to culinary pleasures, you will never be disappointed. Begin today.
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