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My first view of the Eiffel Tower at age 23.

My first view of the Eiffel Tower at age 23.

"The first elevator goes up at a slant and gave me a giddy feeling. I still wasn't too sure about why I was locking myself into this thin tower with wires that cracked and creaked. There are four elevators altogether which take you to the top. The final upward lift is very slow and it seems as if it will never make it. The little French elevator operator laughs and cracks jokes and you wish you knew what he was saying and since you can't, it makes you more nervous!"

“The first Eiffel Tower elevator goes up at a slant and gave me a giddy feeling. I still wasn’t too sure about why I was locking myself into this thin tower with wires that cracked and creaked. There are four elevators altogether which take you to the top. The final upward lift is very slow and it seems as if it will never make it. The little French elevator operator laughs and cracks jokes and you wish you knew what he was saying and since you can’t, it makes you more nervous!” excerpt from my journal, circa 1979

Years back

What was I thinking? I was aboard a plane heading for France with no knowledge of the French language and no place to stay. I musta had guts! What I did have was the dream to become a chef, a caterer, anything food related and I figured going to culinary school would polish off my cooking skills and give me the credentials I needed.

I window-shopped Fauchon at every opportunity.

The most gorgeously prepared food in Paris at the time. I window-shopped Fauchon at every opportunity.

The view through Fachon's window.

The view through Fauchon’s window.

Although I was a seasoned airplane traveler, I had never been on a nine-hour flight overseas. My trepidation diminished the minute I sat down – next to a priest! Feeling safe with no crashes in the forecast, I fell asleep for the entire flight. The minute I landed, my life as a free spirit and adventurer began.

The best cooking school in the world!

The best cooking school in the world!

From my journal I write, “Prices are outrageous. A tiny two bedroom flat is $600 a month plus utilities. Greg Usher, the director of La Varenne, the culinary school I would attend, found it. His friend who went to La Varenne lives here, Anna and her friend Arabella, so there’s three of us. The girls are really friendly – both English.” I shared a tiny bedroom, with fireplace, in a tiny flat in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. I was about to get the European education that would fire my passion for all things food. From my roomies, I learned how to eat goat cheese, appreciate champagne and negotiate politics with their British friends.

The open air market at St. Germaine. Food galore!

The open air market at St. Germaine. Food galore!

The demo station at La Varenne and my favorite teacher ever - Albert Jorant, master pastry chef with personality plus.

The demo station at La Varenne and my favorite teacher ever – Albert Jorant, master pastry chef with personality plus.

My life felt like a movie – classes all day, good company at night and weekend jaunts to wherever my Eurail pass would take me. Everything changed. The old me was gone. I was now a world traveler and true foodie and dubbed myself a Free Spirit.

To be continued….

Ciao for now,

Marie, Maria, Mary