I’ve been thinking about Julia Child. Her 100th birthday just passed this week. She was an amazing woman, who, to this day, is an inspiration to me. Not because of her cooking, no. But because of whom she was as a person. She discovered late in life who she was truly meant to be. And she was passionate. Being authentic takes a great deal of hard, sometimes frightening work. Being true to who you are, and in fact, even knowing who you are is a life-long journey.
Riding my bike is authentic to me. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I remember buying my first bike that wasn’t a hand-me-down with my own money at 15—a Peugeot mountain bike (Peugeot, hmmm—perhaps that also began my love affair with France, who knows?) Anyone can ride a bike. But it doesn’t matter how many articles you read on “how to improve your average speed” or “how to win races”, the truth is, it’s all in your heart. Either it’s who you are or it’s not. You do it because you love it. You simply ride, even if you have no one to ride with (and I’ve ridden almost every day this month, barring crazy winds and/or shocking heat). Doing things to impress others, to fit in or to become what you think others want you to be will never end well.
Coming to France every year is part of who I am, but has also been a massive challenge. I am constantly faced with people questioning why I do it, telling me how “lucky” I am, as though I won some sort of contest. In actual fact, it takes hard work, time, energy, courage and a great deal of sacrifice. But it is authentic to me. Might not be to anyone else, which is why I do it and others don’t. Food and wine is also authentic to me, it’s a part of my heart and soul, and this place is an inspiration for all things culinary. Of course, food and wine is always better when prepared and shared with loved ones. For me, it’s the best part—bringing people together to share in this amazing collective sensory experience that feeds both body and spirit. There is nothing finer. And in Provence, it includes all your senses: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.
Being true to myself has been, and will continue to be, an on-going and ever-changing adventure. Sometimes you lose things, sometimes you gain, but the one thing that keeps you going is that deep down, there is a space in your soul that knows you are being true to yourself. There are times when it seems that part of your soul is buried deep, but if you look long enough, you’ll find it. It’s always there, and that is such a comfort. Thank you Julia, for being a shining example of what is possible when we find our own authentic selves. It’s never too late.