It is scientifically proven that spending time with our women friends prolongs our lives and boosts our happiness. So how do we combine both, and fit more gourmet girl-time in our lives this September? Trish Deseine shares her three best strategies …
Whether or not we still have children at home, there’s no escaping the back-to- school niggle of September and the return to routine after the lazy, hazy summer months. It might even leave you feeling a little bit flat. Helpfully, here in France, la rentrée is a time of change and renewal, a sort of creative New Year. Everyone is keen to find out “quoi de neuf?” and show off their summer glow on café terrasses.
This year, my rentrée resolution has little to do with checking out autumn/winter fashion, and more with my inner needs. Inspired by a recent sunny day out at Monet’s house in Giverny and a long lunch with a trio of utterly amazing and accomplished Cork women, I’m prioritising my lasting female friendships over family and romantic considerations. This is not selfishness, it’s self-care.
It feels good to adopt the healthy cooking habits of summer and interesting discoveries we make throughout the year, and make them part of our autumn repertoire. And it is scientifically proven that spending time with our women friends prolongs our lives and boosts our happiness. So how do we combine both, and fit more gourmet girl-time in our lives this September? Here are my three best strategies.
1. Take a gourmet trip together.
Okay, perhaps not a fortnight touring vineyards and restaurants in Napa and San Francisco! But booking a long, gourmet weekend somewhere slightly luxurious in early autumn is sure to help keep any blues at bay. Later this month, I’m planning to be in my favourite spot on Île de Ré, up on the northwest corner of the island, where you really can ditch the car and do everything on bikes, thus allowing for more eating. Joelle’s house is wonderful in the shoulder season, just a three-minute cycle to the supermarket, wine bars and twice-weekly market, with a beautifully equipped kitchen. Oysters are back at their best after breeding season at Les Huîtres de Trousse Chemise, and late tomatoes and summer fruit make cooking a joy! For a little more luxury, both quick hops from Paris, with state-of-the-art spas, and restaurants recently anointed with Michelin stars, are Le Domaine du Primard and Les Sources de Cheverny. Closer to Versailles, slightly less gastronomique, but with lots of appetite-boosting countryside activities (I love that they call themselves a “country house”!) there’s the magnificent Château de Villiers le Mahieu. Alternatively, and needing no introductions, we will always have Paris itself. Why not book one of the excellent and varied food tours from the experienced English-speaking collective ParisByMouth.com?
“…it is scientifically proven that spending time with our women friends prolongs our lives and boosts our happiness.”
2. Form a cookbook club and cultivate your culinary curiosity.
Cookbook clubs are a tried and tested pot-luck formula which gently nudge you out of your comfort zone and into the spice and condiments aisle. You can match your book to your last or next holiday! Thanks to the fabulous collection from publisher Kristin Jensen, founder of Blásta Books and Nine Bean Rows Books, there’s no need to break the bank, and you will be supporting some stellar (female!) Irish publishing talent, while discovering lots of new dishes and food cultures.
3. Plan ahead and, as I said, prioritise your girlfriends.
Do not fall into the trap the patriarchy has always liked to set by minimising our important, healing conversations – labelling them “gossip” or “girltalk”. Get those girlfriend lunches, brunches or weekday after-work dates in the diary, don’t let them slip, and simply take turns to entertain at home. It’s more low-key, (potentially?) less alcohol-fuelled and more conducive to really good chats. You know the ones, those that nurture and restore more than any good meal ever could. That said, do be good to each other by keeping menus light, veggie-friendly and gluten-free if possible, with plenty of calcium and Omega 3s in there too. Skip desserts and go for good coffee and herbal drinks with a box of quality chocolates from Grá, or Hazel Mountain. Keep those healthy summer habits going with plenty of crunch and raw ingredients. Eat al fresco for as long as is reasonable, staying as close to tried and tested Mediterranean diet guidelines as you can – helping your mind believe you are still on Corsica, Pantelleria or Hydra. And don’t beat yourself up too much if this means reaching for the odd imported melon or asparagus amongst the good old Irish apples and pumpkins, as chillier October looms. @trishdeseineencore