I learned early on that setting a table is so much more than just laying down knives and forks. It is creating a setting for food and conversation, a setting and an aura that lingers long after what was served and who said what was forgotten.
Now that we have gotten to know each other a bit, I think that it is time to tell you something about myself: I have been having an affair for almost as long as I have been with my husband. My husband knows of the affair, sometimes he even watches. We meet every Saturday morning for only half of an hour but to be with him is so sweet, it lifts me through the rest of the week. He is so sauve, efficient, and handsome (as older French men can be). He is very charming. He teaches me new things each week. I am not ashamed. His name is Jacques Pepin!
So now you know one of my true obsessions. I love this man so much that my husband started calling my Saturday mornings with him, my “affair.” I am serious about it. For some reason, I am deeply into Jacques Pepin. I think it is because he inspires me. I love how handsome and well put together he looks on his show. I love the set in which he cooks, there is usually a little bouquet of Japanese Iris’s, a weird little cat statue (also blue), just very French accents. I love how he paints as well as cooks. I love how he spends so much of his time in Mexico. I love his style. His cooking is not only gourmet, but also economical, and healthy.
He reminds me of the French chef I used to work for while I was at the University. He owned the restaurant where I worked and he was there every day without fail with the exception of his one day off a week. He had a loyal following because his food was consistently wonderful, and he created a warm yet formal atmosphere that people loved.
He taught me so much I don’t know how I could ever thank him. So much about food and wine, of course, but he taught me much more by the example he led. He taught me about consistency, about working hard every day at what you love no matter what. Although I would not call him a staunch environmentalist, he taught me about conservation. He is very economically minded (as any good businessman should be) and he taught me how to transform ingredients and not waste. And he always looked so well put together. He had a gin and tonic every night except for one month out of every year. He would take that month off to make sure he was having the gin and tonics and that the gin and tonics were not having him. I always thought that was brilliant.
I think that the nature of a French chef apprenticeship creates the qualities needed in a French a chef and those qualities shine to me as ones that I admire and would like to embody. Even if it is only one morning a week, for a half of an hour!
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