To begin with - yes you are right - you are looking at a restaurant terrace - with a chicken close at hand. I've been told that the chickens don't actually light on the terrace, because.. well there is no reason except 'because - they don't'. I chose this image as emblematic of the charm and the surprise, along with the earthiness and reality, embodied in Gascony, the old name for SW France.
I live in the Gers, the largest region in Gascony, a region of small towns, the biggest of which has under 22,000 inhabitants, and the next only 8,000. But although this is where Dumas placed his Three Musketeers, aside from the gourmets and gourmands of France who appreciate its secrets, it's not a well known area. It didn't, at least as of last year, even appear in Rick Steve's guide to France, so I'd say it doesn't yet qualify as touristic; although, recent articles and books have put it on the radar of people looking for undiscovered France.
I love living here. Sometimes called French Tuscany, it's rural, with the highest percentage of cultivated farm land and organic crops in France. It's citizens are relaxed, cheerful, down to earth, and unpretentious.
Here is the perfect place to have fun, relax, and enjoy uncomplicated pleasures - eating well, drinking well, cooking well, sharing with friends, meandering small roads, making small finds, lazing about.
I've been teaching cooking classes for a very long time and I've taken my share as well. Over the decades, I've evolved away from teaching cooking techniques with the aim of technical mastery. My focus is now on helping you - with whatever skills you possess and whatever ingredients you're cooking - make really good food.
This can definitely include learning to choose the best ingredients, mastering technical skills, exploring the chemistry and construction of food, and finding balance. But, it doesn't need to be complicated. We all cook for different reasons - and we all enjoy different aspects of cooking. It's a matter of using whatever talents and interests you already possess, adding a few tricks, applying your knowledge, and, of course, coping with the usual disasters..
Really good food is made all over the world - sometimes by people who are incredibly talented and sometimes by people who simply like to eat well; both will find a way to make that happen. After a visit here, I hope you too will return home with a new appreciation and enthusiasm for cooking.
What's This? I think it goes well with the chicken photo. It's a sculpture for my town's summer art theme. and represents "The Pilgrim' - that is pilgrims walking the Composte de Santiago trail that runs through Lecotoure. You will find them everywhere, hiding in the foliage or occupying center strips.