23 Jun 2008

Bonne vaccance

Something is looming. Some find it terrifying, others pretend that it's not really coming. Me, I can't wait. It's the perfect excuse for a big blow out trip somewhere I've been dreaming of. My 30th birthday is coming!!

Birthdays in this urban top floor flat, are an excuse to indulge each other, usually with a trip somewhere we both fancy exploring, essentially because we don't like a lot of public birthday fuss. Of course the excuse to plan a trip, such as New York last year for J's birthday is the excuse every girl needs.

With my birthday on the horizon, there have been earnest discussions about where to go, and we initially decided on San Francisco. This decision was largely based on my "special needs" to eat gluten free with ease, especially whilst on holiday. Last year we descended on the Big Apple just a month after I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Considering how distraught I was at the thought missing out on those quintessential stacks of pancakes drenched in maple syrup, all American cheesey burgers and the New York hot dog on a street corner, I had the best time, ate safely the whole trip (in fact J got food poisoning - not me!) and I actually ate like a King. Therefore this largely influenced our decision to explore the west coast of America - home of the US coffee culture and Californian cuisine.

Food, as most of my family will confirm is my largest motivation to explore a place. I love how it gives a sense of place and just a peep into the way of life of its people. No more is this food culture more abundant and diverse than on our doorstep in Europe. More and more
frequent trips to family in Umbria at the heart of Italys' only land locked region, have developed an increasing confidence in safely eating gluten free on the continent. Coupled with my continued interest , some say obsession with local food and markets and in true "against the grain" style, I announced that I no longer wanted to celebrate my third decade in the US, when there was so much of Europe to discover, and a smaller carbon emission to boot.

Every time we have been to Italy, we have talked of doing the "road trip" across France and down to Italy - thinking of the bounty we could return home with. Driving through vineyard covered French hills, stopping off for an impromptu picnic assembled from local smelly cheeses and aged charcuterie bought from the little market in the last town...this is what my dream are made of...

So, I am currently devouring a stack of books on the first stage of the trip that will be France, to get a taste of what's to come:

My Life in France - Julia Child

Tarragon and Truffles - Anne Gregg

Hot Sun, Cool Shadow - Angela Murrils

So, you could say I was studying french food in order to aid my decisions when devouring the menu in cute little french bistros, sipping vin rouge...

...meanwhile does anyone know how to say in french "I have coeliac disease and cannot eat gluten"? Crucial phrase really!!

Bonne vaccance....en Septembre! (a little while to wait...quel domage!)

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