The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur in Europe
July 30 - Loire Valley

Today was chateau-hopping day. We got to three, toured two and will visit "the big one" tomorrow. Quite a different experience from the palaces -- opulent to be sure, but with a bit more of a human scale (if that is possible in a mansion the size of some of these!)

Walking around among the crowds of tourists, I heard French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Russian, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Japanese, English and several other dialects I didn't recognize. What occurs to me is that we Americans are really cultural lightweights. We have a tendency to think that our way is the best (or worse, the only) way but we don't have near the cultural roots of most other countries on the planet. I mean, how many other cultures in the world are younger than we are? I wish everyone could experience this flood of humanity and really see how similar we all are. I think it would make us all a little more tolerant . . . and a lot more humble in the face of those whose cultures pre-date ours by thousands of years!

On the dining front, we have opted out of the local restaurant scene and instead are doing the picnic thing for lunch and having dinner with Annick and Claude Foursac in their home. Home cooking, particularly French home cooking, is far above what we have experienced in most restaurants so far. Nothing fancy, just good, honest food accompanied by several bottles of wine made from their own grapes. Very civilized!

For photos of a day in chateau country, click here.
For a photo of Annick and Claude, click here.

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