It was Jamie Schler’s beautiful photo of a Strawberry Mascarpone Whipped Cream Tart that first caught my eye. It is one of the most elegant and beautiful strawberry desserts I’ve ever seen.
I am pleased to introduce you to this talented food writer and photographer. That she used to live in Florida and even had her hands in our very Florida strawberry fields is even more exciting. Jamie now lives in France with her husband and two boys where she writes for various publications and creates beautiful dishes. Speaking of dishes, how about I let Jamie dish on how she got from Florida to France and her adventures along the way.
I’m a Florida girl. We moved to the Space Coast way back in the early 1960’s when I was just three years old and my father began work for the newly created NASA. We loved the sunshine and the beach, the freedom of bare feet, playing in the street with a gaggle of like-minded kids and fresh Florida seafood and produce. Heaven!
Winter Sundays found us piling into the station wagon and the whole family heading over the bridge to visit one of the orange groves on the Indian River. We would cart home paper grocery bags bursting at the seams with grapefruit, navels and tangerines which we would eat every day throughout the season. Summers meant Florida peaches piled high atop those jerry-rigged wooden stands that sprouted in gas station parking lots up and down South Patrick like newly planted trees. And watermelons that we would eat standing in the front yard, sweet sticky juice dribbling down chins and elbows as we had seed spitting contests, a summer ritual.
And in between? Ahhhh, that meant Florida strawberries! Magic were those trips out to the U-Pick-Em farms where we were given little pint boxes to fill as we wandered up and down the alleys between rows of plants that seemed to go on forever. And of course, as many went into our mouths as into the boxes.
I still love strawberries. I long ago left Florida for a more adventurous life, threading my way through Philadelphia, New York, Milan and Paris; I am now married to a Frenchman and a mother to two more and live in the west of France. We are a food-passionate family, my husband and I shop at local markets and cook together often, visiting regional and local vineyards to discover new wines and planning vacations with restaurant guides in our hands. As happy, voluptuous eaters, we love the local products of our region – we have lived in the Grand Ouest, as it is called, the “Grand West” since 2003 – and revel in the fresh oysters, sea scallops, crabs and fish, the seasonal asparagus, lamb’s lettuce and tomatoes, and the delicate, flavorful cuisine of the Loire Atlantique.
Being in a multi-cultural family has given me a new outlook on food and the place it holds in my life is more important, since food became one more way we had to transmit the various cultures that made up our family to our children. Stories quickly became part and parcel of our family mealtimes, stories, history and family lore inspired by whatever dishes we chose to serve.
Food is part of our children’s heritage and it is one way to ground them and pass on family traditions. I also had the chance to work in gastronomic tourism and as an interpreter in a professional cooking school in Paris many years ago as well as working as editor for a cookbook and a cooking magazine, so my passion for food as well as for those careers that surround it had long ago been confirmed and strengthened … I loved learning, teaching, writing about food. But family and other professions – being a milliner, for example – got in the way for many years.
When I finally decided to begin my blog Life’s a Feast, it was really just as a fun pastime and I thought that it would be focused on the food I love to create in my kitchen, eat and serve to my family. But very quickly it became more about those stories behind the food and a slow but natural transition or evolution took place and my writing became the focus, the food merely the inspiration.
I was soon a regular contributor for Huffington Post Food as well and from there embarked on my freelance writing career. I also love teaching writing and after having spoken at several events around the globe, I created a food writing, styling & photography workshop with 3 very talented women, two of us professional writers, two professional stylists/photographers, called From Plate to Page.
Read more of Jamie’s writing on her food blog, Life’s a Feast. Follow Jamie on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You can find more of her writing at the Huffington Post and learn more about food writing and photography at From Plate to Page.