“A region of chaos and moonlight. She liked it there.” – Anaïs Nin
I was involved with an all-consuming darkness when creating became my only saving light. At night, I would fall asleep to colours of pastries, textures of dough and combinations of sweet flavour. As it so happened, and in my most savage hour, a conflict arose between the life I was living and the life that I wanted to lead. Burdened with fevered dreams of what life could be like, I was forced to make a choice. So, I chose to shed my scarlet skin and let it wash away. I made the choice to marry life. And in doing that, I made the choice to accept every dark, fleshed crevice, every cold, sterile, oceanic beneath, just as much as I chose to accept the dwindling, dappled light on the shore. It takes being stripped of everything to know what you really have to live for. And I am thankful for what I have become. And in the path that I choose to surrender.
I paid with my soul for the life I now live. And I had to discover how to be again. So, I baked, over-and-over again. Laughed. Smiled. Cried. And re-learned how to live. I could breathe once more, and light, once again, took its place. I fell into a deep, all, consuming love. Far deeper than I ever thought I could be capable of loving. An inferno of love so deep and bestial that it frightened me. And in the process of living, of feeling, of creating, I learnt many things. Lessons about myself, about others, about the world. Oh, how I have lived! I can breathe easier because I truly have lived. The wild stories, the honey-suckle memories, the people and friendships made along the way, I love it all, I want it all, I love you all, even you, dear reader.
Creating can do that, baking can do that. It holds a therapeutic power like nothing else. It’s something that sustains my beating heat. Giving to others, giving to myself. The ability to bring happiness and evoke rich feeling in another being. To feel the savage, primal rush of love and chill of cold pain. To feel hot blood pumping throughout my veins. Intimate human connection and the ability to live out my hidden fantasies, that’s what I desire. It makes me feel alive. Freedom.
At the core of my work is the embracing of both light and dark aspects of my personality. The double, the twin, the shadow self. You’ll see light, you’ll see darkness. And when they meet, sometimes a mixture of both. I feel it throughout every aspect of my life. And that’s okay too. I accept and relish in the clutches of the dark, rather than become consumed by the fight against the pull. There’s no soul on earth that’s just pure light. And there’s a beauty in brokenness, in imperfection. An abandoned beauty that I’ve always yearned for. Loving the people that live with monsters, for I too am one. We recognise each other on soul level.
It wasn’t always meant to be this way, French and me. I don’t know how this love affair started. I wasn’t from the culture, I wasn’t introduced to it, nor could I understand the language. Perhaps in a past identity, the melodies of my life were filled with winding Parisian streets, kaleidoscopic bloomed sunsets, champagne breakfasts and Debussy at dusk. Euphoria in all its forms. It could be a slightly romanticised version of the world, but I choose to live in the dream. I always have. An incredible dream. And one I hope to never wake from.
My palate is French too. And my baking is inspired by the culture, though, often with a slight twist. You’ll see French flavours feature throughout my work. Herbaceous notes and diaphanous florals too. I’m inspired by all things floral. Using a flower as a medium to convey feeling. The pale hues of a singular petal, the delicacy of the bloom, the innocence of the bud, the protective nature of the stem. The point of flowering being death. Bloom, wither, fade. And I create poetic prose around these experiences, these fragments, that all come together to make up my life.
Included in the depths of these archives are a collection of recipes that tell the story of who I once was, who I am now, and who I hope to be. Sweet memories that weave tales of truth, of happiness, of love. These recipes healed me. They allowed me to feel something more, desire something more. And I’m sure that they’ll evoke some sense of feeling in you too. I want you to explore. Make a finicky layer cake, a comforting fruit-filled pie, a loaf of buttery brioche. Brew coffee, brew tea. Whatever. It’s all love.