Tuesday, January 17, 2006


The St. Antoine Market on the bank of the Saone river is my home base, and it is a source of great inspiration. It's the place where I do most of my shopping, and aside from my kitchen, the place where I snap the most photos. A month after we moved to France, Loic and I had a place to live, a bed, and a stove. We were waiting for our furniture, books, everything, to arrive from America. I did not speak French at the time, and each day, Loic would go off to his new laboratory and do physics, while I tried to figure out how things worked in this country.

Our move having been kind of a last minute thing, and with my needing to work as long as I could while I still could in Los Angeles, I had not had any time to learn much about life in this country. As we packed our two suitcases each for the flight to Lyon, I instinctively put two books in my bag, the two legendary central tomes by Julia Child, one of which had been given to me by my mother when I was 21 years old, and the second volume having been purchased at a used book shop when I met Loic.

Even a trip to the grocery store was a trial and a test for me. If you don't prepare for the culture changes, there are a million little peculiar qualities to the people here that when added up can make you feel like they are losing touch with your sanity. I decided, not by my own choice, in the beginning, to begin frequenting the outdoor markets of Lyon, because for some reason I felt I could communicate more directly with the people there.

It was amusing to the vendors to witness my mute, haggling, bustling, no-nonsense way of keeping of the food on the table in those fragile months when we'd sunk everything into just getting to Lyon, and I had only a little bit of money a week to keep us fed.

At that time, I discovered the beauty and the magic of French cooking. I know it sounds odd that I had been hauling Mastering the Art of French Cooking around for so many years without ever really appreciating what was inside, and only when things got easy and all those strange ingredients were close at hand did it all click for me. Ho hum, sometimes I rely on felicity more than I should.

Although we were really struggling to keep afloat, to me we were still managing to eat like kings - I was cooking real French food! A couple of eggs, a knob of butter, a pot of local wine and whatever was in season and we could do some serious eating! I began to explore parts and offal, and cheap things, keeping things playful and adventurous. My husband agreed. I never did get in the habit of supermarket shopping. The market is the element of the French way of living that I find has so completely wrapped itself tightly around my heart. I suppose that struggling and coming out on top, no matter what kind of struggling or where, does that to a person, endears them to a place. It doesn't matter really where a person is.

I began taking careful notes in those very first days, a blank book that I had started as a diary to paste the ticket stubs and remember the carefree whilrwind months I spent in Paris as an exchange student from UNC CHapel Hill at the Sorbonne before Loic and I were engaged. I had covered the outside of the blank book with a subway map (one of the good ones, back when they gave out good maps) of the city of Paris and had embedded a small printed photograph, a fleeting snapshot of the bird that came out to sing in the evenings in the courtyard behind Loic's one room apartment near the canal. I still call those kinds of birds 'love birds' and consider them good luck, although I know they must have a name given by the scientists of the world.

When I had filled that first book with a whole lot of very simple notes and discoveries, notes from enthusiastic brainstorming, essays, stories, and a host of happy aha moments and accidents (yes! It just keeps going and going!), I got another blank book, and this time covered it with a map of Lyon, and filled it with increasingly sophisticated food oriented ideas. My family and friends began to identify me with my strange obscession at that time. New friends never knew the before-food Lucy, all the better, in my opinion.

This blog is the place where I'll put personal recordings from over the happy years we have spent in France so far. It begins after six years of diligent servitude to the seasons, French cooking, new discoveries, ideas inspired by my husband and his family, my education in the language and culture, and all around food enthusiasm that was jump started by my sudden immersion in Lyon.

I hope you will enjoy accompanying me through seasons. Most of all, I hope that my kitchen notebook inspires you to keep one of your own.

To contact me, click here.



Blogger Unknown said...

What a wonderful blog! I will be certainly be following your thoughts and experiences.

10:07 AM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In just discovered your lovely little blog! It is a true pleasure to come and visit! You are in France and I am in the US, the inverted situation!

12:36 PM, May 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just discovered your blog; I was searching for a river trout with sorrel recipe and here I am! What a beautiful site. It really is lovely. Beautiful to look at and a good read too!

7:55 PM, June 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bon jour! I just found your blog. My daughter spent her sophomore year in Lyon (2004-05; international program from Pepperdine University) and I visited her there for 9 days. Fell in love with the city and the shopping...am going to follow your blog as it brings back good memories and hopes to visit again.

2:55 PM, June 30, 2006  
Blogger Parisbreakfasts said...

What a beautiful blog! Very pleased to have found you.

7:26 PM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Patrick in Chicago said...

I love it.

9:26 PM, April 07, 2007  
Blogger Laurent Martinez said...

Congrats: that's a lovely blog. I'll stop by again.

2:47 AM, September 05, 2007  
Blogger Nicole said...

Lucy, I just came across your blog. I love it and the rather Toulouse Lautrec like header. I spent only a semester in Paris but have been total francophile ever since. Back then and on and off in my single years I had
"everything" journals and now I just started a food blog to document my love of food.

I will keep checking back here.
A sante!

1:51 AM, April 20, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucy, I have just found your blog and am SO glad that I did! My husband and I are both graduates from Chapel Hill and now live in Nashville where we have record deal with a company here. We just went to Paris for our 10 year anniversary and have the biggest dream of moving over to France if ever possible. So far our life has proved ridiculous (in the good way) so I don't see any harm in that kind of goal :). Your blog is beautiful and delicious. I am so glad that we found you...we will visit often!

9:27 PM, November 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucy, this is wonderful! I just found your blog googling for a tartiflette recipe for tonight - we have a fruitiere reblochon that needs to be eaten. I am an American from upstate NY transplanted to the Alps (reblochon country)with my new French husband, and will soon be trundling between this old country house and apartment life in Grenoble, lamenting all the things in my kitchen that I can't split in two. I have not yet mastered the art of French cooking (or living in two kitchens) and constantly make my husband laugh with the strange ideas I come up with that would pass as delicious in NY but are simply not how things are done here. I think I can learn from you. Thank you for sharing your kitchen notebook, your beautiful photos and your wonderful writing.

6:54 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger L Vanel said...

We must meet, Camala.

7:33 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Corinne said...

Lucy, j'adore votre blog ! I am a " Lyonnaise " who married an American and has lived in Texas for the last 30 years. So, I guess I have your life on the other side of the Atlantic.... Market days are such a wonderful experience ( except during the cold and windy winter months... ) and I miss them here on the gulf coast. Food in Lyon is almost a religion, alors félicitations ! Votre blog va me faire rêver de mon ancienne vie de "gone".....

2:28 AM, September 06, 2010  
Anonymous Airi said...

I just fell upon your "notebook" (a.k.a blog) and am so intrigued. I love eating french food but am scared to try it because it seems to time intensive. Your pictures are beautiful and your posts inspiring. I'm so glad I have found your blog. Thank you!

12:14 AM, January 27, 2012  
Anonymous Ilke said...

I spent several short days in Lyon and in Paris in 2001 and wish I had my 2011 version of myself with me instead of ignorant, worried one. I hope to be back one day. I am looking forward to reading more in your blog, especially as an expat in the Carolinas :)

11:13 PM, February 05, 2012  

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