A few days ago, I described how two paintings evoke memories of two kitchens in my life. But now a third kitchen comes into play—and so it is that my Tale of Two Kitchens goes on.
Love of French culture and language has given me several close French friends. Travel at home? A friend can bring the sweetest kind.
A few years ago, one of those friends, whom for privacy’s sake, I’ll call Nicole, invited me to have lunch in San Francisco with a cousin who was visiting from France. Chantal (as I’ll call the cousin) and I discovered we had much in common. We were both busy wives and mothers, but with one big difference: Chantal carries out her wifely and motherly tasks at her home in an apartment in Paris.
A trait of Chantal’s that I greatly admire is that even though her life is chock full as a mother of three, she makes time to pursue her own creative interests. Chantal is an artist. She paints at her tiny Parisian studio a distance from her apartment.
After Chantal returned to France, we two moms corresponded by e-mail. A few months later, I received an air mail invitation requesting my presence at a vernissage at the Hotel de Ville in the 14th Arrondisement. I knew Hotel de Ville meant the town hall, and I knew Arrondisement is kinda like our zip code (well, not exactly) in that it denotes a specific section of Paris, but I needed the dictionary to translate vernissage. Turned out, the word means exhibition. Chantal had invited me to a showing of her paintings in Paris.
I won’t go into how I actually managed to get there, but in Paris I had the pleasure of attending a champagne reception, the opening gala of Chantal’s show. And that’s how I wound up with two paintings that symbolize my kitchens in England and in California. And through Chantal’s art, my two kitchens are linked to her kitchen in Paris.
In closing, I’ll take this linkage one step further. There’s a fourth kitchen–Nicole’s kitchen in Paris near the Rue Wagram and the Arc de Triomphe. (Nicole is Chantal’s cousin–and my dear friend, as you might remember–who at the time lived near me here in California.) When I told her I was going to be at the vernissage, Nicole insisted I stay at her apartment in Paris, which at the time was empty. This enabled me to have the pleasure of shopping at the grocer down the street, and of cooking my meals in a Parisian kitchen. (Wish I’d taken snapshots of that tiny kitchen I remember so well. I’d show them on this blog, but I took no photos—I just chilled out and enjoyed being in France.)
And come to think of it, there’s a fifth kitchen, too. How about Nicole’s kitchen here in California?
Do you see my point? Our best memories begin and end with friends. My tale of five kitchens—one in England, two in California, and two in Paris—springs from a single friendship between Nicole and me. And though all three of us—Nicole and Chantal and I—now each remain at home, through our kitchens we still give each other travel memories.
What stories do you have of friendships that enrich your travels and your life once you’re back home? I’d love to hear about them via your comments.
P.S. and news flash! I’ve just received a comment below from my friend, author Tiffany Holmes. And now that I think of it, dare I mention a sixth kitchen connection linked to the trip described above? You’ve guessed it–Tiffany’s kitchen in Manhattan! During my sojourn in Paris for the vernissage, Tiffany and her husband, Bernard, were there on their annual trip to the City of Light. My first day in Paris that year was the night before they were due to return to New York, so we had a lovely dinner together for their last night. (Last for that trip, not forever!) Tiffany blogs on “Parisphile.” If you love Paris, please go to her blog! Just click the link in my blogroll.