Simplicity is My Guide

When I was 20 years old, I traveled abroad after college with my two best friends, one of whom stayed in the UK to finish her senior year of college, and the other opted to live in Denmark. I decided to live in Paris and focus on learning French. I worked as an au pair for a family with two small children.

The woman of the household was a pharmacist and homeopath, which didn’t register with me until much later when I was studying homeopathy myself and realized what she was doing. We lived above a pharmacy. A little green cross outside my bedroom window was illuminated all night so someone could find a pharmacist in case of an emergency.

Living in another country has deep impacts on you, which you may not even realize just how much that chapter in your life will become a part of your story…a part of who you are. One of the reasons I chose to live in France was that I loved the simplicity of the way of life there.

To this day, simplicity is what drives me to do things the way I do them. Less is more in every area, especially in the kitchen.

I realized today when I was putting dinner together that I learned to cook in France in a way that now affects how I shop, what foods I am attracted to, and what recipes are my family’s favorites.

I love to look at cook books, but honestly, I rarely make recipes from them, unless I have all of the ingredients already in my kitchen. I shop for food then figure out what to make with a full pantry. I know most people do it the other way around: make a menu and shop for the ingredients. I buy whole and honest foods and pull together creations in the kitchen that are uncomplicated and that are the joie de vivre. (French translation: exuberant enjoyment of life or joy of eating.)

I buy foods that are not in packages (for the most part). I don’t use recipes with a zillion ingredients, and everything I make takes minimal prep and is usually beautiful. The French have an eye for the beauty in everything. They hone in on a beautiful detail and let your eye just enjoy it without shoving it down your throat. I love that.

Last night, I made a simple dinner that reminded me of living in France and thought I would share. I grabbed a handful of sage, tarragon, and oregano from my garden, rinsed it off, and put into the cavity of an organic whole chicken with the rinds of three lemons. I added generous amounts of garlic, salt, and pepper, and squeezed the juice of lemons over the chicken. Then, I drizzled some olive oil over the potato wedges and carrots. Simple.


And the finished product…voila! Done like dinner!


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