Wendy’s Food Roots

Growing up in Southern L.A. (the shores of Lower Alabama), I developed my love of good food from fishing, shrimping, scalloping and oystering with my grandfather along the interior bays and shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Little did I know at the time that he’d been the son of poor pioneer settlers and learned these skills out of necessity to put food on the family table. I only knew that I lived for the weekends when we threw the crab nets, fishing poles, scuba masks and wading boots in the back of his old station wagon at sunrise to go on culinary adventures around the county. Along the way, we’d meet all kinds of locals who worked in the seafood and farming industry and soon, Papa and his cast of characters became my teachers out on the open waters and in the fields.

My fondest memories are sitting on the dock of the bay learning to hold the knife properly to shuck scallops and oysters, shelling peas on the porch swing propelled by our bare feet in rhythm with the cicadas, sitting on a kitchen stool watching him frying shrimp and cornbread in a deep cast iron skillet, standing on the jetties at St. Andrews pass casting for redfish at sunrise waving at the fleets as they headed out, and gigging flounder at midnight from a canoe using only a sharp pole and a flashlight.

Things started to change in high school when my European humanities teacher started telling stories about things I’d never heard of, far from our town and its shores.

Then, it was only a matter of time before the Gulf Coast was far behind – and I was sending long letters home via Air Mail from university while studying journalism in London. At the end of my term I had an extra weekend before going home to work with Southern Living Magazine – but discovered Paris on August 29, 1989 and never looked back.

The journey wasn’t always easy figuring how to live in Paris both financially and culturally, but during the next several years, Papa and the county characters were replaced by Parisian bakers, chefs, winemakers, chocolate makers and market vendors willing to take a Southerner lost in translation under their wing.

Paris has been my heart & home for over 20 years, and I love sharing its hidden food gems with food curious travelers.