It’s only January and there is ice on the ground, but I’m already dreaming about the food I will eat come June. I’ve found that if I close my eyes and imagine myself in a glass room filled with sunlight, suspended above the treetops, I can almost taste the warm and slightly oozing Epoisses slathered on a fresh baguette. Almost.
Never in my life have I enjoyed eating as much as I do at L’ATELIER, partly because the food is local, abundant, and sumptuously prepared, and partly because I don’t have to make a single bite of it. Rather, I can devote myself wholeheartedly to my writing, knowing that the food will magically take care of itself. Although my use of the word “magically” is a bit misleading—there is a lot of planning and work and thoughtfulness that goes into every meal—it’s just I don’t have to do any of it. I have happily renounced all responsibility and control.
Yet, as a teetotaling vegetarian of more than twenty years who eats the occasional fish—and yes, snail—giving up control of what I eat is not easy. But it is precisely the planning and work and thoughtfulness that enables me to do so. As an American in France, I willfully submit to the local customs and foods, and while I’m not always able to eat every course placed in front of me, I always leave the table fully satiated—deliciously so. Most of the time, the miracle workers at Le Verger sous les Vignes are able to accommodate my dietary needs, with a Roquefort soufflé or a goat-cheese and artichoke omelette in place of the roast duck or the coq au vin for example. But even were I to sit out a course completely, I could easily subsist on the salad alone. And let’s be honest, my waistline would probably thank me for it.
But that’s the biggest miracle of all, really—that after an entire week of three and four course meals, I’m not rolling my way back onto the airplane. Maybe it’s because the food is fresh and whole and sourced locally. Or maybe it’s because I’m burning so many calories writing in my room for hours on end. Creativity is hard work—don’t let anyone tell you differently. But I don’t question it. Rather, I simply sigh contentedly as I reach for a second helping of cherry clafoutis and gaze out the floor to ceiling windows to watch the sun set over the green hills, surrounded by friends.