La Vie De Bon Humeur
Hopefully, you've been following our incredible journey over the last week. We've just returned and I'm reflecting deeply on what the last week. Most importantly, what will all this mean for you? For one, I feel lucky to have been welcomed into the lives and homes of some of France's finest brandy producers. We met with a culturally diverse group from the rural agricultural producer who rarely leaves the farm to the wealthy negociante who travels worldwide selling their stocks. We have a tendency to pigeonhole the French based on our preconceived notions of their national identity (something they are indeed guilty of as well).
The French, however, are regionally divided to a significant degree. Each little commune (read: county) has its own cultural history, food traditions, forms of expression, and most importantly preferred beverages. During the trip, while discussing our travels with the producers we met, a number of them expressed how astonished they continued to be by the diversity of the French Nation. Often, while describing the richness of French food culture, they would comment on how they themselves were constantly discovering new things, even from the village over. These products had always been there, but where totally new to them. Perhaps in more international and cosmopolitan regions like Cognac or Champagne, there is more of tendency to habituate outside influence, but in general each little place has its way of doing things. While the French have a strong national pride, it is difficult to pin down exactly what that means to them. Some of this may stem from a sort of isolationism between the regions France, but it can't be denied that it, also speaks to this countries incredible diversity.
The one factor that unites the French nation is a deep passion of the living of life. The commitment to living well, albeit perhaps amplified in our presence, is second to none in this world. It connects these disparate peoples who otherwise would have nothing more in common than their language. Within each region there is at least one person who has given up everything to pursue their passion for creation. We are lucky to have a nation on this earth so devoted to the epicurean arts. Below are a few reminders of why: