I can dream, can’t I?
I just finished one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. On Rue Tatin was a Christmas gift from The Boy, who understands both my love of food memoirs AND true tales of people escaping from their humdrum lives. On Rue Tatin is a bit of each.
This extraordinary memoir details an American woman’s journey from her life in Seattle to living in a 15th-century convent in Louviers, France. Susan Loomis graduated from journalism school knowing she wanted to be a food writer. Thinking she needed to learn more about cooking, she took a job as an apprentice at a Parisian cooking school.
Of course, she falls in love with France. Of course she doesn’t want to go home. But she does, and somehow she manages to convince her less-than-enthusiastic husband (who doesn’t speak French) to uproot their lives and move to Louviers, a Norman town which is one hour away from the City of Light. As they tackle renovating the gorgeous derelict building they were able to buy, they must deal with culture shock; their confused, unhappy toddler; unfriendly florists who use their backyard as a storage area; and local men who were accustomed to peeing in their drains!
Still, On Rue Tatin is a lyrical love letter to France. Interspersed with recipes, Loomis brings the setting and people of her new home to life, and you instantly understand what drew her to this place. While France has never been on the top of my list of places to see, reading this book made me wish to join her there, to meet her wonderful friends, to peek into the shops and bakeries and cafes she describes so well, to walk those centuries-old streets and touch history on every corner.
And best of all, if you have the means, you can! Susan Loomis now runs a cooking school, where you get to learn the fine art of French cooking and eating at her side, along with five other people, in her own home–the home she so lovingly describes in On Rue Tatin. (Class sizes are kept small.) Along with the twice-daily lessons and sampling sessions, there are tours of the places she loves best, including cheese shops. Heaven!
Unfortunately, this heaven comes at a steep price. Her six-day course (three-day courses are also available, but what would be the point of coming all that way for three days?) is almost $4,000 US, and that doesn’t include airfare, room and board, or transportation once you get there. Ouch.
Still, it’s fun to dream, and this is a beautiful dream of what would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If nothing else, I can always read her gorgeous book and be inspired.
Have you ever made a huge change in your life, like Susan did? Or have you ever dreamed of doing so? If you could run away, where would you run to? I always admire people who are brave enough to leave everything they know behind for a whole new life across the pond.