I’m home. It was hot. I got a pot. The end.
Just joking. You’ve never known me to be particularly pithy, have you?
My trip to Europe was wonderful as you can imagine. I had worried a bit about it being too short and that I was trying to cram too much in that short time. But I didn’t feel that way at all. By a good stroke of luck, I was able to get right on Cannes time without the three days of jet lag that I used to feel whenever I would fly East. I think that helped. And of course I would have liked more time in each of the three cities I visited but I never felt like I was running from one to the next. The fact that I didn’t have two very sweet but very-noisy-demanding-of-my-time-and-attention boys following my every step made the whole trip feel luxurious.
This also helped contribute to the feeling of luxury. That would be the view from our hotel room.
You know how every family has stories that get told over and over again? Every time we all start to talk about American ideas of what European hotels should be, my mom brings out the one about me biting into a bar of soap in Cannes.
In 1971, Europe was impossibly cheap for Americans and because my parents were young and insane, they decided to take me on a whirlwind trip to five different countries. I was just under a year old. In Cannes, we stayed at a very posh looking hotel called the Carlton. The rooms all had toilets but no baths or showers and if you wanted to bathe, you had to call for a maid who would unlock the room with the bath located on each floor. After a day of playing in the sand, I was filthy and my mom decided she would just get in the bath with me to wash off. For one second she turned her back and in that time, I managed to get a hold of a bright white bar of soap and take a big bite – a foodie even then. As soon as I actually tasted what I had bitten into, I started to scream. And because that little bite of soap got stuck behind my brand new front teeth, I continued to scream. My mom, horrified, tried to hook her finger behind my teeth to get the soap out and I bit her. Imagine my poor mother, 25 years old, naked with a screaming baby and a bleeding finger in a hotel where she barely spoke the language, just waiting for some gendarme to come and bust down the door to save the screaming baby. One of those funny now, so not-funny then stories.
Anyway, the irony is the Carlton is where Randy and I stayed. I assure you, we had a bathroom with a tub. And we had that view. I don’t remember one second of that 1971 trip, so I will tell you that this was really my first trip to the Côte d’Azur – the beautiful Riviera. I am always amazed by the diversity of landscape in that incredible country roughly the size of Texas. This view has nothing in common with the rolling hills of Normandy or the Kansas flat of the region right around Paris. It is a beach very different from the wind-swept wild sands of Brittany and the food, accent, and look of the people is completely different too. Cannes would probably not have been on my life’s itinerary if not for a conference which brought Randy there. And we certainly would not have had the room with its king size bed, soaring ceilings, and incredible view, so I am grateful to have experienced it.
But on to Paris and the list of kitchen shops I had crunched in my fist. We walked into the first gleaming gorgeous shop and I got that huge flutter of excitement in my gut. Like the proverbial kid in a candy shop – where do I start first?? I want one of everything! (Incidentally, I later found myself in an actual candy shop on the Île St. Louis and I got precisely the same feeling. I walked through the shop, running my hands over the gorgeous sweets on offer, and was too overwhelmed to actually buy anything.) As my eyes flicked around the shop and as I wound my way up three floors of beautiful things for the kitchen, I started to realize something a bit disturbing. I have most of this stuff.
There are those people who say that all you really need in the kitchen is a few good pots, a frying pan, a trio of sharp knives (chef, paring, bread), and a cutting board. While I appreciate the simplicity of that claim and can certainly tell you that those are the only things I use without fail every single day, I am the person who will also tell you that having a citrus juicer and an egg slicer, several bench scrapers and pastry cutters, 9, 10, 11, and 12-inch fluted tart pans, all manner of palette knives and offset spatulas, countless wooden spoons, and an egg poacher – not to mention drawers and cabinets full of other things – is a joy impossible to describe. Until you find yourself on a trip six years in the making and realize that all those things you thought you might purchase? Well, you already have purchased them.
Not everything of course. I bought some tiny tartlet pans and a loaf pan in a size you never see in the States. I got a couple of serving forks and a spatula with a wooden handle, and a bread knife from Poilâne. I bought a copper ladle that I will probably never use because it’s too pretty. I also got this guy.
On my search for a brand of copper pot well-known in France but impossible to get in the States, what I found is that everyone sells Mauviel. The type you can get in any Williams Sonoma store. The exact brand of the gorgeous risotto pot that my parents bought me for Hanumass last year to start me on my collection – the pot that I returned because I was going to find my boutique brand of pot in Paris, and I wanted them all to match. No need to kick me, I am doing it to myself as I type.
Anyway, the prices were better in Paris than in the States and I couldn’t come home pot-less so I decided on this beauty. As someone who bakes, I actually have use for a double boiler. Yes, putting a bowl over a pot of simmering water works just as well – but isn’t this pretty? My dad, ever the scientist, asked me about the chemistry of this decision. Why do you need copper if you are trying to tame the temperature? Don’t you buy copper for the heat conductivity? Silly dad. No, you buy copper because it is gorgeous.
Speaking of gorgeous. Look at my mom. I have that to look forward to.
Anyway. I got all kinds of food treats and ate some yummy things. All to come in the next post.