I guess I should have brushed up a bit more on my French before committing to travel around France.
My husband and I stood underneath a beautiful building ledge in Paris to shield us from the unexpected rain, when a group of Parisian women with aprons on stepped out of their bakery and started shouting at us "Viens de la pluie mademoiselle !"
Now I have to say, coming from New York, I thought these shouting women were telling us to move away from their store. If there is anything that annoys shop owners on the east coast - it is loitering in front of their place of business. You can barely use the bathroom on the Jersey shore in a pizzeria unless you buy a whole pie.
So naturally, we were preparing to find another space to keep us dry from the down pour.
When the women saw that we were walking away, they looked to each other and said "Americans?"
We smiled and one of the women said loudly in English "Come in from the rain Madame!"
They motioned for us to come into their beautiful bakery, with no assumption or expectation for us to purchase a thing . This was the kind of hospitality we experienced throughout most of Paris.
Warm smiles, welcoming exchanges, and kind open central spaces such as the "boulangerie (bakery)" that serves as a place where people gather, talk, laugh, create connection and ....YES...even shield themselves from the rain.
It had been so long since I stepped into a bakery.
I was almost scared to look around.
In the U.S, because our food is so processed, bread is evil - back home it brings me moodiness, weight gain, and a whole list of other ailments that we would never think is caused by food.
But in France, this bakery was the catalyst for a month-long trip of tasting every delicious grain across the country.
...Bringing me back to good ole fashioned home cooking, savoring every sweet and salty bite.
I had forgotten how much more pleasurable life could be when you are surrounded by good food and happy people.
I was raised this way - to value togetherness and cooking fresh food in love, but somewhere along the way my desire to 'succeed' clouded my remembrance of how to really do life.
Today, I am grateful that I have been able to create a business that encourages me to revisit how I really choose to live (over and over and over again) - and for me .. Living a life I desire is living a life that is slow, spiritual, purposeful, connected, meaningful and free.
When I eventually returned back home from Paris, I came to appreciate the values that my family instilled in me and longed to feel connected to the food I made to nourish and bring pleasure to those I loved.
Baking with fresh organic ingredients use to do that for me and became a lost art due to "life". So on the Sunday my plane touched down, I headed to the local whole foods, picked up some ingredients and decided to spend a day with my grandmother baking good ole Caribbean coconut bread.
We laughed, we smiled, we talked, we baked and just feeling the joy from creating something so pleasurable and nourishing for others brought me joy.
(And I only had to step outside once to take a client call) The beauty of our work.
So I am sharing this recipe with you - perhaps you will use it, perhaps it will inspire you to write your own, or even better - perhaps it will bring you back in touch with why creating an impactful business filled with freedom is really important for you.
Too often - we lose our vision and we forget what we really want.
Yes the money is nice,
Yes the impact is powerful
But the freedom
...Freedom of time, freedom of relationships, freedom of purpose is what matters most to me.
Thank you Paris, for reminding me of the joy of hospitality.
2 1/2 cups freshly grated coconut
1/2 cup grass fed melted butter
4 cups organic flour
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup organic brown sugar
1 cup organic raisins
1 free range organic egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon organic vanilla essence
In large mixing bowl add all of the flour, baking powder, and salt. Melt the butter in a saucepan. In another bowl mix the coconut, the majority of the sugar – leave some back for covering the loaves later, raisins, egg, milk, vanilla essence and melted butter. Mix well until you have a creamy paste. Add this to the bowl with the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until you form stiff dough.
Then divide the mixture between the baking tins (greased with vegetable oil and lighty floured).
Next boil the water. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar, with some hot water and brush the top of each loaf.
Bake in the center of the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour