France, it has long been known, has the power to ignite a passion for food.
Julia Child overcame prejudice and disdain for Americans to earn her culinary badge from Paris Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in the 1950s. Her memoir, “My Life in France,” details her love affair with the country and its culinary masterpieces. Food writer Amanda Hesser wooed a grumpy peasant caretaker in a walled kitchen garden at Chateau du Fey in Burgundy, France, and wrote about it in “The Cook and the Gardner.” And even food blogger-turned author Molly Wizenburg of Orangette fame traces her food writing epiphany to the streets of France in “A Homemade Life.”
There are countless other Americans who traveled to France and suddenly found a new direction in life centered on food. So revered is French cuisine that its principles are a bedrock in Western culinary schools. In November 2010, French gastronomy was added to UNESCO’s “intangible cultural heritage” world list.
And then there is Ellise Pierce, the Cowgirl Chef, who followed a Frenchman to Paris only to get homesick for Texas. There, in the romantic culinary capital of the world, the former journalist found herself yearning for cornbread, hot chilis, and even – gasp – Milky Way candybars.