I’ve had a home in Provence, a modest one, for many years. I raised goats there and made goat’s milk cheese that I sold in the open markets. My son was born there, and my neighbors of now almost 40 years, are like my family. Provence to me is more than a second home – it’s a second life.
My husband, daughter and I restored an old stone house in a beautiful hillside village only 15 minutes from Manosque, and half an hour from my small farmhouse in the upper Var. It was a virtual ruin when we bought it in 1994, the last home of a retired shepherd, his dogs, and pigeons. We brought it back to life with such elements as wood-fire baked floor tiles from the famous tile center in Salernes, a classic Provencal dark, glossy red double tile sink for the “coin cuisine”, and hand-carved wooden doors. A favorite spot of all who come is the terrace that overlooks the village and oak-studded forest beyond – the perfect spot for aperitifs and dinner or anytime.
I get notes from people all over the world – it’s been translated into Dutch, Polish and Korean -who have read this book of mine. Some relate to the adventure of starting a small farm in a foreign country, others to the funny anecdotes surrounding raising goats and pigs. Some people even write and want to know what happened to my first husband or ask about Ethel. The people in the book have been my friends and neighbors since I was a young mother and I look forward to seeing them every year, sharing meals, long walks, and endless conversation.
This isn’t my book but my daughter, Ethel Brennan’s and photographer Sara Remington’s book. I wrote the forward for them, at their request, and even went on some photography excursions with them. The stories are their childhood stories of summers spent in France, a decade apart, and the recipes are those they remember from those long summer days and nights when they were children. Ethel and Sara met a few years ago while working on a photo shoot and discovered they had similar experiences growing up. Filled with recipes, stories, and lush photographs, it is truly special.