May 2015
The La Varenne Basics, Revived

Once upon a time there was this book: It was, for many years, among the kit of references and tools that students and stagiaires were given upon arrival at La Varenne cooking school in France.  In it are the foundational basic recipes that we would be drawing from over the coming months, recipes that would become nearly rote from the frequency at which we reproduced them. But for reference, reminders, and ...

Oct 2013
Cheese Bit Quiche: Reminiscing with Leftovers

It's no surprise that a lot of reminiscing went on this past weekend while Anne Willan was in town. She was here, after all, to celebrate the release of her new memoir, One Soufflé at a Time: A Memoir of Food and France, so she's heavy in memory-mode, going back to her early days ...

May 2013
Sharing France: Cocktails with Dad

My first three trips to France came over the course of about five years and the length of each trip increased about five-fold from one to the next. First, one month with about 20 students for a Winterim term in Paris. Next, just six of us from the same university returned for the inaugural year of our school’s study-abroad program, a semester at the Université de Dijon. Then came my cooking school adventure, which I thought would be ...

May 2013
Past and Present at Pere Lachaise

It’s Mother’s Day today, at least back in the United States (the French will celebrate la Fête des Mères in two weeks). So what I did I do to honor the day in Paris? I took a walk through Père Lachaise cemetery. Not out of some grim impulse to acknowledge the eleventh Mother’s Day since my mom passed away. But because it felt like the right kind of soulful environment ...

Apr 2013



I spent a few minutes trying to come up with a more clever title for this post but figure it pretty much speaks for itself. Whether you've been there on your honeymoon or for a study-abroad term, if you backpacked-it in a hostel or lived it up at George V, even if it was one of those horrid if-this-is-Tuesday-it-must-be-Belgium "highlights of Europe" tours--there's surely a buzz of delightful nostalgia that hits you at the mention of Paris. Or maybe you have yet to ...

Feb 2013

Ah to have been in Paris this past week! It would have given me the opportunity to toast—in person—my mentor Anne Willan for the honor bestowed on her latest book at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards. Instead I raised my coffee cup generally France-ward to salute this book that represents a lifelong passion for, and curiosity about, not only food we eat today, but chefs and cooks who came before us. If any cookbook author deserves the nod of “prolific” it’s surely ...

Feb 2013
Rover’s: An Appreciation

My husband and I still remember that first meal we had at Rover's. It was August, 1988. We were both having grumpy weeks, didn't like our jobs, whatever the grievance. So we played hooky that lovely sunny day and walked onto the Bainbridge ferry to escape a bit, wander Winslow, explore the beach. Then a huge treat that evening to cheer us up even more: dinner at Rover's. They had a larger outdoor patio then, it was years before the renovation ...

Dec 2012
A Most Magical Christmas

I didn't want to break the spell. When I left Seattle to go to cooking school in France, it was a major adventure, a big step into an unknown future, a dream come true. Belongings that I wasn't taking with me went into long-term storage, since this was to be an open-ended trip of at least nine months (ended up being 2 1/2 years). The last thing I wanted to do was break the momentum and serendipity of my time abroad with splashes of my ...

Sep 2012
Cooking Moroccan

It strikes me as interesting that I have my liberal arts education in Tacoma, Washington to thank for my introduction to North African cuisine. Indirectly, I suppose, but it was a University of Puget Sound winterim study program of a month in Paris that had me exploring the bustling, colorful byways in and around Paris' Rue de la Huchette where there's a convergence of international cuisines, Moroccan among them.  Of course the French ...

Aug 2012
Julia Child: Bon Anniversaire Madame!!

Back in early November of 1990, I was into my second year in France for an extended stay. Earlier, in college, I'd had a couple trips to France as part of my studies--once for a month, the following year for a semester at University of Dijon. But this was my post-college, what-the-heck-was-I-thinking-getting-a-math-degree? exploration of the culinary side of my aspirations. I'd signed on for a stagiaire ...