This coming Wednesday Peggy Markel is coming to our school for lunch and to make a presentation on Tuscany. I met Peggy about ten years ago when I first started teaching at CSR and accompanying students to France as part of their education. At that time she just ran trips to Tuscany and she came to the school with her Tuscan chef Piero to cook with us.
Peggy’s tour offerings have since increased tremendously. She now takes people to Elba, Liguria, Sicily, Morocco and if you read the last issue of Food and Wine she will take her first group of students to India this fall.
Things seem to happen serendipitously to Peggy. She’ll be having lunch with someone and that conversation will lead to a connection to a hamman in Marakesh and the next thing you know she is leading trips there.
She has been doing this for 17 years. I admire and share her openness and curiosity about different cultures. We are both especially fascinated about the convivial nature of a meal shared with people of different cultures. The language of food truly transcends political boundaries and has the potential to unify different cultures.
One of the elements that caused me the most satisfaction in taking students to France was to watch the cultural stereotypes disintegrate when my students integrated with the French on their turf. The myth that all French are rude is unfounded even in Paris. In return the French were equally fascinated that American culinary students were interested in their culture and their food.
As part of my student’s stay in Provence, I placed them in stages in French restaurants. At first my students were intimidated and alienated. Then as the cooks in the host restaurant would warm up to my students, friendship would develop and true exchange would take place.
Peggy is also very well connected with the Slow Food movement and was instrumental in launching the Boulder convivium.
I look forward to her joining us on Wednesday and sharing her passion for Tuscany.