Some books we consume as light reading end up catalysts for change in our lives. Laura Florand’s romance novels have fallen into this category for me (I recommended her free story The Chocolate Rose in my last post). In her chocolate series her heroes are French chefs (the stories set in France). I’ve loved all her heroes. Even the book I gave two stars (The Chocolate Temptation) I’ve actually re-read the first half again (and will read again because the first half deserves five stars). Her French chefs are just so captivating I’ll probably break down and buy the rest of the series (soon).
So how can reading about fictional French chefs finding love change one’s life? If you’d asked me this question two weeks ago I would have raised an eyebrow and stared back with a blank mind. I think it was while reading The Chocolate Rose a second time that change set in. The hero is a pastry chef who pours his heart into his desserts. When he offers the heroine something he’s made for her the reader knows he’s offering his heart on a plate though she doesn’t realise this at first. It made me stop and wonder if I’m dishing up my heart for my creative endeavours and if not, why not? There is no point creating anything without passion (without pouring our hearts into it). It’s made me ask myself, do I dish up my heart in my stories? I do! Am I dishing up my heart in my other artistic creations? Hmmm – not all the time! Why not? What do I want to be creating? Does it make me happy to dish up my heart? Yes, but I must feel passionate about the feeding.
So what else is changing? My attitude to food! I realised a few years ago that I had an unhealthy (love/hate) relationship with food (learning certain foods make me ill and choosing not to eat them has really helped!). For most of my life I’ve viewed people who LOVED cooking or baking as oddities (not quite escapee lunatics, but not far off). I did learn basic cooking and baking, but I rarely enjoyed it. Reading about people who love food though has made me start thinking about food in a new light. Maybe they’re not crazy! If someone offers me a dish made from the heart, will I honour their offering by enjoying their creative efforts? And don’t I deserve to eat beautiful food made with love all the time? I do! So I’ve started making my own food with love (and making it beautiful) for me. I don’t know if it tastes better because I’ve taken more care or if I’m just unwittingly exercising my creativity. Either way, it’s a change (brought about by reading a romance novel).
Reading about fictional French chefs has made me curious about real ones. In Florand’s Chocolate series she often mentions in passing a top chef competition (the MOF). This made me wonder if anyone had uploaded a real contest onto youtube. It turns out numerous people have uploaded numerous videos of French cooking competitions televised and otherwise. This one I particularly enjoyed – yes I sat here for two hours watching French chefs make pastries (and occasionally using the same swear words as Florand’s books! This video link is NOT for an MOF contest, but it was utterly riveting) – even though half the time I could barely understand what they were saying (because it’s all in French). I’ve actually watched several more hours of French pastry contestants (and I have a growing compulsion to watch more). Be warned – after watching people bake works of art you will have to BAKE something or at least buy some eclairs to eat! I’m starting to scare myself…though whether that’s the mad urge to attempt to make eclairs or all the silent conversations I’m having with myself in broken French (or both) who’s to say. Last night, still haunted by watching those videos of intense looking chefs, I looked up French chefs on Amazon and found a book I HAD to buy; Child to Chef – Book 1 A Gourmand in Training by Chef Eric Arrouze (published in 2013). It’s written by the Chef (in English – he now lives in Canada). It’s an autobiographical cook book (he shares all these stories behind each shared recipes). Part of me is reeling – what? – I’m eagerly waiting for a book written about the love of making food to arrive? Have I been abducted by aliens? To be honest it doesn’t really matter – I’ll love it. What next? Who knows! Cari buys a blow torch and attempts to teach herself sugar work and burns down her house. Hopefully not that!
Can a romance novel change your life? Yes, but only if you let it.