So when I told my mom I’d landed the writer-in-residency in France I’d applied for, she replied with a dismayed “oh no!” The residency part scared her I think (knowing my tendencies and dream of moving to France long-term). I hastened to add it’s two weeks. Not that I wouldn’t love to do it longer, but I’m giving earn-and-burn a workout, using half my vacation time by mid-February.
So here’s the story behind what I think will end up being one of the coolest things to ever happen for me: Last week on Twitter I saw a post from @KatedeCamont , a cook, writer and all-around fabulous person in rural France.
I went home that night and didn’t even eat dinner, just got right to work on my application/letter of intent, which boiled down to answering why I should go to France and what I would write about. Hmm, why should I go to France and spend time at a culinary center, immersed in French food and culture? Wow. Why should a truffle pig bury his nose in the dirt? But I had to say more, so I did. I also asked some lovely people to say nice things about me for a reference, and was so happy at the way they quickly agreed to help.
Then I waited, and dreamed, and pored over the lovely photos of Kitchen-at-Camont and read aloud to my husband the description:
The Kitchen-at-Camont is a rural culinary center housed in an 18th century farmhouse, surrounded by the fertile fields and orchards of Gascony, in Southwest France.
The focus of the Kitchen’s programs is on close-to-the-earth gastronomy. Weekend students, long-term fellows, and apprentices alike learn how to cook with the ingredients that are grown in the gardens that surround the Kitchen, as well as those produced by nearby farms. Taking part in the Kitchen-at-Camont doesn’t just mean learning to cook an artful meal, it also entails planting vegetables, shopping at local markets, plucking a chicken, preparing foie gras, or learning how to butcher and preserve a whole pig.
Here, everything is hands-on and immersive. More than a classic cooking school, Camont is a creative retreat, a sort of French kitchen camp where participants work alongside artisan food producers and skilled cooks to discover, define and reconnect to food as it is meant to be enjoyed. There’s also time for aperitifs and a game or two of boules, for meandering lunches, and for surprise visits to sample local specialties like honeysuckle eau-de-vie.
I got the news this week – I’m in! It was hard to resist the urge to dance, shriek and/or do the little jump and heel-click. Two weeks at Camont (and of course I’ll tack on a weekend in Paris at the end) to fairly steep myself in French food, have time to write, to photograph, ohhhhh and to eat.
133 days till France — not that I’m counting or anything.