In relation to kitchen and cuisine, I can definitely say, that my life has two distinctive stages: one – before France and the other – France, which started just over eight years ago (December 2003) and is happening now.
I cannot really remember my first experience in the kitchen; I was too small then and, I bet you, that I had different interests in my busy buzzy life, like becoming a ballerina or a world-famous pianist, singer or actress. None of this had anything to do with the kitchen, as you can see. And none of it had anything to do with France, as I grew up in Russia. My parents always encouraged my interest in music; they bought me my first piano, when I was just 3 years old. And I loved it! I spent about 15 years learning how to play and then how to teach the piano. Eventually I became a qualified piano teacher, but I got bored teaching one-to-one after just one year working in a music school. So, I decided to try my hand as a fully fledged music teacher in a state school. It was very hard but very rewarding and exciting. It was great! I will always treasure memories of my teaching years as some of the best working experiences of my life.
My life had a huge turn, when I met my husband Peter and moved to UK with my kids. We had to start our life from scratch: new country, new language, new traditions… Yet again, I did not really have any particular interest in cuisine, food or kitchen and I looked at it as a necessity in life: you need to eat, therefore, you must cook. I was too busy working or sorting out my family, life troubles and the like. Of course I could cook and I’d like to believe that it was not bad at all, especially since in couple of occasions I was asked to cater for small office parties. Apart from friends and family saying that I was a great cook, or the food that I cooked for them was great, I would have never thought of myself as a cook.
Nine years in UK went like nine days: children have grown up and flew the nest, Peter lost his job, then he had a heart attack and was unsuccessfully seeking another job after being signed off work by the doctors for several months. Eventually he became a househusband – a great one at that! Meanwhile I was working in London, commuting two hours every day , I had no time to cook every night, so my access to the kitchen was limited to Saturdays and Sundays; during the weekdays Peter was in charge of the kitchen. But there are only so many things that a man can do in a small house, especially if he never stayed at home for more than two months due to his work arrangements. We needed a change.
We decided to look for a holiday home in France, which we would be able to rent out when we were not there. Our first visit to France was exciting, uplifting and successful! Looking originally in the Dordogne area, we ended up buying not a holiday home but our next home and a Bed & Breakfast business, where we still live and work now. Of course I could tell you a lot about our house hunting and settling into our French adventure, but this would be a different story. The fact is that our move to France allowed me to re-discover myself and my passion for cooking.
So here I am, Galina Fenton (Galya for anyone, who can pronounce it right), Russian, married to an Englishman and both living and working in France.
It is this weird and wonderful medley of experiences, cultures and habits that I have brought to my cooking. I am no expert, but, through this blog, I hope to share all that I have learnt about food and cooking with you. I deeply hope that you will join me in a culinary adventure that spans cultures and continents.