April 21, 2021
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
Sound familiar? Just one of my favorite quotes from your memoir, A Moveable Feast. I am sharing it today because I think I know of someone who would truly appreciate it more than ever. Her name is Erin French and she is the owner and chef of the critically acclaimed restaurant, 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐊𝐢𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐧, a 𝘛𝘐𝘔𝘌 world dining destination, in Freedom Maine. In her new memoir, Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch, French shares how her world famous restaurant came to be. From roaming barefoot across a 25-acre farm as a child, to her personal and culinary journey through the years, French’s memoir is DIVINE.
I can not express enough how much I loved Erin French’s memoir. If you are not familiar with 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐊𝐢𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐧, let me give you the scoop. The restaurant itself is in a refurbished old mill in a small, secluded Maine town. Can you say farm to table at its finest?? If you would like to make a reservation to dine at this seasonal restaurant, guess what…..much luck is needed. To make a reservation (pre-pandemic), interested parties send a postcard via good-old fashioned snail mail. Once all the postcards are received, a lottery system is used to choose future guests. How cool is that?
“We would feast on oysters-pulled fresh from the Bagaduce River just down the road-served with finely chopped cucumbers, shallots, and fresh dill from the garden. There was the fried chicken, raised and slaughtered right here on the farm, and an heirloom tomato salad with tomatoes picked just hours earlier from the hothouse, plus an assortment of basils from the garden, a drizzle of good olive oil, and a sprinkle of flaky salt. We’d have tender new potatoes, freshly dug and dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette and sprinkled with fragrant marjoram. And big flaky buttermilk biscuits served with cultured local butter from the farmer’s market and honey that was bottled across the street by the neighbor. We’d finish with sweet maple custards made from farm eggs and cream and garnished with local blueberries, dollops of whipped cream, and the tiny strawberry blossoms I had collected that morning.”
Starting over from scratch is never an easy feat, but that is exactly what Erin French did. In her memoir, she takes readers through her life, one page at a time, sharing her most intimate moments along the way. From her childhood in a small Maine town, to an unexpected pregnancy, French drew me in from the start. Her deeply troubled marriage was so very difficult to read about, and her struggle with anxiety, depression, pills and alcohol will hit close to home for many. French built and rebuilt her dream restaurant under some toilsome conditions. She did a phenomenal job yanking my heartstrings on one page, then leaving my mouth watering on another. Her innermost thoughts and feelings are sprawled out on the pages of her book and let me tell you this…they are thoughtful, heartbreaking and utterly beautiful. The most profound thing about French’s writing is that she seized the mood, then wrote her heart out…literally. As I read her words, I felt like I was talking with a close friend. No judgement, just pure admiration, heartache and love. French was knocked and beaten down more times than I can count, but it was her deep seated love for food and her beloved son that kept her fighting every step of the way for the freedom she so desperately desired.
To say her story is inspiring is an absolute understatement. EMPOWERING, HEARTBREAKING, and absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS is more like it to me! Not only does French share with the world her hardships and struggles, she brings awareness to supporting local businesses, knowing where your food comes from and following your dreams…no matter what obstacles get in your way. Whether she is writing about her darkest moments, her family life or cooking in the kitchen, French’s words are 100% infused with her deep passion for food. Though this is French’s memoir, she does not hold back on her gratitude for all those who stuck by her side. It takes a village, and French’s village is overflowing with the people who helped her along the way and who brought their own skills and know-how to The Lost Kitchen table. Knowing the entire story behind Erin French and The Lost Kitchen only strengthens my desire to travel the 96 miles to Freedom, Maine to embark on this culinary experience. 🤞🤞🤞 My husband and I will get that chance one day.
Cheers to great food and great friends!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. I wonder if Erin French ever read your memoir, A Moveable Feast. Whether or not you two would like each other is not up to me to presume. If I am lucky enough to have French read my letter to you, maybe I will find out!
P.P.S. Check out what I had to say about Erin French’s cookbook Right Here!