You may wonder why I'm reviewing A Year in Provence, a book that is 24 years old. Well, as we love to travel, and I do write about our travels here, I wanted to share it with you. My husband and I both read it years ago, and both loved it. If you have any desire to go to France, especially Provence, it is a must read.
I'll admit, there have been times when I've thought about moving to another country, to a slower life. In A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle shares with us, who are left behind just wishing, what it is really like to pick up and move to a 200 year-old farmhouse at the bottom of the Luberon mountains. Is it all wonderful? No. He deals with all the problems a 200 year-old house might have, like cracked pipes and windows being ripped off the hinges by the wind. Even more fun, he realizes that procrastination is a way of life with workers in this small town. However, the food, the stories, and the absolutely delightful writing by this author will make you, too, want to pick up and leave.
I want to go to France and eat Boar and truffles. I want to have five-hour meals where we drink wine and linger over dessert. We have had 3 hour meals at our house, where we've invited a few couples to join us for proscuitto-wrapped figs, bruschetta, and a few bottles of wine. We might do this 3 or 4 times a year, because we're busy, and our friends are busy. In A Year in Provence, there is not much that takes precedence over dinner. And the restaurants Mayle describes visiting? They make me want to just book my next vacation now:
"The proprietor of the restaurant, a man who had somehow perfected the art of hovering despite his size…quivered with enthusiasm as he rhapsodized over the menu: foie gras, lobster mousse, beef en croute, salads dressed in virgin oil, hand-picked cheeses, desserts of a miraculous lightness, digestifs."
I can picture it. I have not been to France, but we did visit Italy a few years ago. Eating is just different there. We swore we would shop more so we could eat fresh food, like they do there. At least in the places Mayle speaks of, they don't have a freezer (okay, 2 freezers) that look like mine. I want to chuck it all and go to the market, I mean grocery store, every other day at a minimum. If it isn't fresh, it isn't eaten. Not a bad way to live, right? We ran into these two elderly women when we were in Italy who were out doing their daily shopping. They bought what was fresh, and that was what they made for supper. The restaurants in Italy didn't have 30 choices. What was fresh and in season was on the menu.
"The quality of the food is more important than convenience, and they will happily drive for an hour or more, salivating en route, in order to eat well."
We tried for a short while, but it didn't last. Convenience is just too easy, and we are too busy not to take advantage of it. Maybe one day. Perhaps when our girls are grown and we're retired, we will go on an adventure like the Mayle's did.
If you are looking for a wonderful beach or vacation read, or want to pretend like you are on vacation, pick up this book. I'm sure your local library has it, though you might want to buy it as you'll want to share. Enjoy.