How do you turn a vacation into an adventure? It used to be that just traveling to another country was enough. It forced you out of your comfort zone. You had to contend with a foreign language, a different culture, new foods and different ways of living. Now, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find something new. So much of the world speaks at least a little English. You can get a burger just about everywhere. The internet is an instant expert on everything. If you let it, travel can be just another routine.
Don’t let it.
If you’re passionate about sports, there are extreme vacations, mountain climbing or other physical extremes, but what if your passions tend more to the intellectual or cultural? Of course you can sign up for cultural tours or buy a Michelin Guide and set out on your own. That’s what I used to do, but where’s the adventure in that?
The more I travel, the more I find that the adventure comes from a connection with a local person, learning about how they see the world, understanding their challenges and what they view as success.
Here is an idea: indulge your hobby.
A Culinary Adventure
Meet Fred Pouillot, “Le Foodist”, a Parisian Chef who runs a one day cooking course for English speakers. He will take you to the produce market, introduce you to local farmers and teach you about the intricacies of cheese even before you start chopping vegetables. As you prepare a quintessential French meal, he puts the food into the context of French culture and history.
The pace of the lesson was leisurely. I am no chef. I don’t even hold a knife properly and I am painfully slow at chopping. I’m fine when I’m cooking a Sunday dinner alone for the family but was nervous about cooking under the watchful eye of a professional Chef. None of that mattered. The point was to understand the preparation and culture of the food. Fred showed us what to do and everyone pitched in. The other participants were a great source of conversation: a retired school principal who had worked in his family’s restaurant, a grad student taking a break from her studies in Scotland. We all chopped, boiled, stirred and blended together.
Fred is passionate about food and France. He also has the added experience of having lived in the United States for several years, so he’s a good cultural ambassador. Listening to Fred gave me insights into what it’s like to be French, to live in Paris and to start a business there. It was a fun adventure.