If you haven't already discovered Peter Mayle's Provence, run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore or local public library and acquaint yourself with a wonderfully written series of books that will transport you to beautiful landscapes, delicious culinary adventures, and colorful social commentary on French Provencial life. I've recently reacquainted myself with these delightful books and have once again, found myself vicariously relaxing in the warmth of Provence, while enjoying the many gourmet flavors of France. All of the books within this series are rich in descriptive detail of all things culinary, true bliss for a foodie book lover. And just this past year, Mr. Mayle added an additional course to the menu, with Confessions of a French Baker. This adorable volume revisits Chez Auzet, the wonderful French bakery that was first introduced to us by Mr. Mayle, in A Year in Provence. Confessions of a French Baker not only takes us on a tour of the bakery, complete with a brief Auzet family history, but also reveals to us various processes and techniques involved in the art of baking bread. And as if this were not enough, beautifully illustrated and simple recipes from Gerard Auzet are included for the already well fed reader.
Inspired by this brilliant little book, and also because of my well known love of thyme, I have just finished baking a small French boule that is flavored with thyme. Most everyone has a favorite scent (especially in the kitchen) that soothes them, for me it's the essence of thyme. The scent of thyme gives me a feeling that despite any personal melancholy, all is still right with the world. This afternoon, my spirits were immediately lifted, as I kneaded the dough for this bread and the subtle hint of thyme perfumed my entire kitchen (and my hands as well, since I did not use a mixer). Soon, my primitive, little hand-formed loaf had baked itself beautifully and my kitchen was again a place of aromatherapy. And with the first warm taste, I found myself once again in Mr. Mayle's Provence.