“I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable.” Anthony Bourdain
The lure of France has never dimmed, nor has the lure of French cuisine. In Gascony, the Pays Basque, Occitanie and Provence in particular (where I currently lead slow travel tours) good food, carefully prepared with first rate ingredients is not a luxury but an essential ingredient in the daily art de vivre, art of living.
In 2010 France became the first country whose gastronomy was added to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) list for the protection of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Typically beginning with an aperitif and ending with a digestif, a gastronomic French meal was codified to include:
- – careful selection of dishes using recipes reflecting the terroir and diversity of a region.
- – the use of fresh, local products whose flavors are complimentary.
- – the marriage of food and wine.
- – a beautiful table setting.
- – the celebration of the importance of being with family and friends, so that a meal becomes a moment of sharing and discovery.
In the Gers department where I live, considered the heart of Gascony, there’s a deep affection for foods of the heartland, a pure, distilled culinary embodiment of the Gascons’ rural origins, an extension of the land itself. The special attention paid to the pleasures of the table are found in la vie quotidienne, ordinary life.
Since the love of good food and community is at the heart of rural village life, there’s no better way to step into the rhythm of the countryside than through a class at the local cooking school, Atelier Cuisine Fourcès.
We are fortunate to have the cookbook author, and teacher, Laura Washburn Hutton, living in our midst. Laura trained at the prestigious Paris school, Ecole de Cuisine la Varenne, and worked as an assistant to the renowned American food writer, Patricia Wells, and the influential French chef, Joel Robüchon.
In 2020, she and her husband walked into the kitchen of a house for sale in the storybook village of Fourcès, decided this was the place they needed to be, and now divide their time between England and France.
Laura’s cooking classes will be offered on my 2023 Fortified Gascony in the Gers tours, convivial French Country Adventures showcasing the food, culture, people and landscapes of southwestern France.
Slow cooking and slow travel go hand in hand, because both are about taking the time to not only savor a meal, but to enjoy the company of friends.
If you’d like to be included on my mailing list for next year’s tours please sign up on the home page of my website. which will be updated soon.
| Sue Aran lives in the Gers department of southwest France. She is the owner of French Country Adventures, which provides private, personally-guided, small-group, slow travel tours into Gascony, the Pays Basque, Provence and beyond. She writes a monthly blog about her life in France and is a contributor to Bonjour Paris and France Today magazines.|
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France, England and other European countries.