Travelling is wonderful. You may have cottoned on to the fact that I enjoy a little of it every now and then. A lot of it more precisely. People ask why, they wonder how I can do it all. They also wonder why I do it all.
Why do I do it? I love getting an insight into another culture. I love getting under the skin of how people eat, how they shop for food, what they shop for and how they cook it at home. I love gathering recipes and bringing them home.
I love being inspired by how other people operate, being immersed in a whole different thing for a little while gives you great perspective on your own existence.
Hotels are great, I love them and the luxury they provide. But after a few days I get antsy. I miss my kitchen and I miss being able to cook. My kitchen keeps me calm, and cooking keeps me sane. When I am stressed or sad my first instinct is to cook.
So, when I haven’t cooked for some time I get doleful when I see piles of glistening vegetables in markets, wheels of cheese in cheesemongers and absolutely anything else that I could be cooking or eating at home. I can of course take stuff home but I still miss the process of cooking, of being regularly able to do it.
I was watching the lovely Rachel Khoo’s cookery show, The Little Paris Kitchen, on BBC2 this week and it brought me right back to my Paris trip in December. Where I stayed in a proper house owned by locals (while they were away) and had a kitchen. For a time my life in Paris felt very real. I tweeted lots of pictures and other detail and promised to tell you all about it too. A little belated I have nabbed some time to do it.
It was a fabulous house, 4 bedrooms and sleeping 7 at a very reasonable £494 per night, much cheaper than a hotel but with lots of luxurious touches and a gorgeous kitchen to cook in. Aspirational for a Londoner with a tiny flat like me.
It was spacious and bright with a large open kitchen and living area and a fantastically stocked kitchen (kitchenaid, good knives, pots, pans etc.). I spent the weekend shopping in markets and local food shops and cooking joyfully when I got home.
I visited 3 markets that weekend, all nearby, and all food (of course!). The third one was particularly special as we visited on an organised tour with our guide, food writer and chef Camille Labro. Camille was bouyant with knowledge and enthusiasm and brought us through every stall describing everything.
We chose food that caught our eye and then returned home where we cooked up a wonderful feast. Scallops, artichokes and cheese (not together!) were a trinity of culinary highlights that I can still taste when I think of them. There was lots more too.
As I sat and ate it all, supping some wine, I wondered why I had never lived in Paris. I still don’t know, but I feel I might have done for just a few days now.
I travelled to Paris with Housetrip, who rent over 2,400 properties in Paris and 86,440 in other cities all over the world (with an impressive 1,000 being added every week). The properties are owned by locals and rented out when they are away. Our food tour with Camille Labro was organised by Context Travel.