For those who appreciate cooking with freshly picked herbs and plants, or for those who simply love to cook and eat great food, there is a study retreat held in the French Countryside that offers both. Writer for GoNOMAD.com, Michelle Rogers, shares her experience as a student of Dr. Francois Couplan in the fields and in the kitchen in her article entitled, Eating the French Countryside: Collecting and Cooking Wild Herbs and Plants.
“I recently did a study retreat on cooking French cuisine with wild edible plants with a French ethnobotanist called Francois Couplan, and that was our menu. I went into this retreat thinking I was going to do an intensive study of wild edible plant collection and preparation. What I got was an amazing experience in French cuisine, culture and language.
At the end of the day, after hiking around the woods and countryside, we return to the Auberge with our collections. I’m rubbing the little welts on my fingers obtained during the collection of the stinging nettle plants while looking over the massive mounds of plants we have laid on the long table before us. There are near 20 of us in this course, so we’ve collected a LOT of items during the day.
Once the group has agreed on a plan of action and menu for the night, everyone starts moving. It’s an amazing experience for me to watch these French in the kitchen. I’m your typical American who doesn’t find cooking second nature. I’ve had to work at learning it over the years. For these people it is indeed a second nature.
Finally we put all the creations onto the dishes in an appetizing manner and the food is served. Not just one dish, but several courses of appetizers and apéritifs followed by the salad, then the main entree and then the dessert. I was stuffed, and it was all completely delicious.”