Among all the stylish French and ‘almost french’ girlfriends that I have the pleasure of spending time with here, there is one whose name will already be familiar to some of you. She lives in a sleepy little market town, she is quite low profile around here, but her cookbooks are sold around the world. Her name is Susan Loomis.
Susan lives a little further down my valley, and has called France home for a couple of decades now. She has raised her children here, and created her business from her house. Good food is her passion, and she is a true authority not only on cooking techniques, but also on the best places to buy food all around France.
I went to visit with her this week. Very aptly for a food writer, she lives on a street called Rue Tatin, which has given rise to her company name. Her beautiful home used to be a convent, and I love the way her garden lies in the shadow of the church.
I was at her door quite early, and together we made the twenty minute drive to a favourite farmers market, which takes place each Wednesday.
Susan shops at the market like a true French woman. She goes with her menu in mind, but is still able to adapt and change her plans according to what she finds at the market. In France we like to eat food according to season, which is what makes the farmers markets so vital and so lovely to visit. No two weeks are ever the same, and there is always a new temptation.
The vendors all know her, and are eager to advise her on the freshest and most tasteful produce on their stand. The fishmonger in particular (who if the bottom ever drops out of the fish selling market, could easily get a job as a stand-up comedian). He and Susan had a long chat about buying fresh skate, and then tasted some of the mussels that he had cooked for his clients to try that morning.
Once her list was all ticked off, and both our baskets were heavy, (I swear it’s impossible to get out of a good food market empty handed) We made our way back to the car, stopping only to buy fresh bread, then drove home.
While I mooched around her pretty garden, Susan went through the house pushing open the windows to let the lovely warm sunshine in.
Susan’s daughter Fiona is still in high school, and occasionally she helps out with her mum in the kitchen. Susan is in high demand as a personal chef, and also as a teacher. She gives cooking classes in Paris, as well as at her own home.
Her home classes include a trip to the market and cooking in her kitchen, before sharing the meal in her 12th century dining room.
There was some additional excitement when we got back because the postman brought Susan the first copy of her new book. A lovely volume of true French recipes, gleaned from friends and acquaintances here. I asked Susan if it is difficult to think up new recipes, she just laughed. “Everyone has a different way of preparing food, every recipe has a variant, all you have to do is observe and share”.
Well I’m sure it isn’t quite that easy, but I’m also sure that her recipes are truly French and each one tried and tested in her kitchen.
If you would like to know more about Susan’s cooking classes, or pre-order the new book which is released next week, then just pop over to her website and click on the links.