The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

house-balcon1.jpg

In February 2009, I left the house I’d been living in off and on for years, and embarked on a quest for a new place to live. Last week the quest finally ended, and we’re now settling into a new house, which is actually a pretty old house, a new country and a new area for us - Provence, France.

I’ve written about my love for this area several times here, but we are moving here knowing that there are disadvantages to living in a fairly small village in a fairly rural area. We spent the last year roaming all around France and Switzerland, even briefly considering moving to the U.S., before deciding that this area was the one for us. The weather is beautiful about 90% of the time, the locally produced food is gorgeous, and the pace of life is still quite tranquil.

Another factor is that, compared to Switzerland, the cost of living in France overall (at least outside of Paris) is quite a bit lower. Switzerland is a fantastic place to live - but it helps if you are employed by a company that pays a lot of your required expenses - they pay part of your social security, part of your insurance (though health insurance is paid for by individuals) and so on. If you are self-employed or run a small company (that’s us), you have to foot the bill for all of that yourself. Zürich is a great city, but rents are high and buying a house is simply way out of our budget. And food, including eating out, is quite expensive.

Here we can eat very well for a lot cheaper. Sure, the nearest Japanese grocery store is a 2 hour drive away in Lyon (we do have some ‘Asian’ stores that are a bit closer though), and for many ingredients I may even have to go to Paris or ship a lot of stuff back from Japan - but overall, I think it’s going to work out. Of course we are able to make such a move since both of us do most of our work via the internet.

So, how is my move going to affect Just Hungry or Just Bento? In the long term I think it’s going to make them even better. I do have an urge to chronicle my new life the Provence somewhere, including a lot of non-food things, and I’m not sure yet if I should do it here or set up a new blog for that purpose. But just in terms of food I know that the access to the abundance of produce here is going to re-inspire me to cook more. And, with the reduced living costs, I hope to be able to make a lot more trips back to Japan too. (As a sidenote, one of the reasons we decided to settle here is to have a place where my mother can come and relax for a few weeks every year, away from the daily big and small stresses she seems to experience in Japan, which may have caused her health to break down.) And I’ll be going to the U.S. quite a bit too, for business and family reasons - including some promotional activities for my book (more about that in another post).

In the short term, it’s going to be interesting. Right now the house is kind of habitable - there’s electricity, and we got the ADSL working (which, in our household, is slightly more important than running water and a toilet that flushes). There’s hot and cold running water and we managed to clean up one of the old toilets enough to use. On the other hand, it has no kitchen! We’ve been surviving on bread and cheese and eating out at local restaurants so far, but we’re planning to get a small refrigerator and a hot plate or something to get by until we can start the renovations on the house. (We stupidly managed to forget that getting workers in is pretty much impossible in France in July-August.) So…until September at least, I’ll be doing a lot of non-cooking-cooking I think. Should be um, fun? We’ll see. It will certainly be a challenge!

So where am I?

Physically that is…mentally or metaphysically I’m not sure. But anyway, the town we selected as being just the right combination of factors is Vaison-la-Romaine, in the north-eastern area of Provence called the Haut Vaucluse - the upper or northern part of the department of Vaucluse, which in turn is in the north-western part of the PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d”Azur) region. It seemed right to us from all the other places we considered; the town is not too rural (it is the center of commercial activity in the area and has a big, weekly market and some great local shops) but not too urbanized. It is quite touristy, as is most of the Provence, but not as overrun as many other places (yet) - and it’s occuped by more year-round residents than summer-home-residents. It’s not too far from Lyon-Saint Exupéry, an international airport with not-too-bad connections to the rest of the world. And it’s a fairly easy day’s drive away Zürich, a critical factor since The Guy needs to be there for meetings and stuff on occasion.

I mean, of course it’s beautiful Provence, and all of that, but we did try not to get too caught up in the tourist-brochure dreams of a place and focus on day-to-day realities. (I’ll talk about some other areas we rejected during our year-long search in another post.)

As as for our new/old home itself - we got a rather quirky stone house (well, most of the older houses in this area are built of stone) on the fringes of the town. The house itself has a lot of, shall we say, issues - but we decided the house was for us mainly due to this:

View from the new (old) house

That’s the view from one of the windows. The haute-ville or “upper town” is to the left, on top of the hill, and is mostly Medieval with some buildings dating back to the 13th century. The Roman bridge, built in the 1st century A.D., spans the Ouvèze river, and to the right is the basse-ville or “lower town”, which has most of the shops and restaurants, and has so many Roman ruins that local people barely glance at them. In front of the house, across the Ouvèze, is a rocky cliff with a statue of the “Black Madonna” on top, and to the right is a view of Mont Ventoux, the biggest peak in the area and a famous challenge on the Tour de France.

The house itself…well, from the outside it looks fine really. Let me dwell more on the wonderful surroundings, before I start talking about the issues the house has…

viewhouse1.jpg

So, the house has a few issues. As I mentioned earlier, it has no kitchen at the moment. It has one sort-of working bathroom , which was absolutely filthy when we got here, and will need replacing since the toilet is cracked, the shower stall seems to be falling apart, and so on. The other bathroom has no water. There’s a big, deep hole in the ground on one side of the house, which needs to be dealt with before a small car or child falls in there. We have a fair sized, completely overgrown garden, that leads right to the banks of the Ouveze…but at the moment it’s only accessible from the house via a steep, rocky dirt path. The road in front of the house gets a busy during the day, and already we’ve had to shoo away some Belgian tourists who parked right in front of the front door so we that could barely get in. The basement/cellar, which is actually built into the rock, used to be a studio apartment, in which a slightly odd single guy lived apparently (I can’t imagine any human being living there full time) - it’s almost pitch black in there unless the door is held wide open, and perpetually chilly (good for wine…not so good for people) so let’s say at the moment it’s mighty spooky.

I’m not sure if we have enough money to do all the renovations that the house really needs. This keeps me up late at night more often than not.

But, at least the roof doesn’t leak, the walls are beautifully thick, keeping the house cool without any air conditioning, and the views are imprenable (uninterrupted - vue imprenable is the phrase to look for if you want a house in France with a good view) and really to die for. It’s a brand new adventure, and I’m going to try to take it as it comes! Or, run away screaming in a few months. Stay tuned…

And a question for you…

If you’ve made it this far, a question for you - would you prefer to read stuff about my new life in France (with lots of non-food things) right here on Just Hungry, or would you prefer that to be separate, perhaps in a new blog? Just curious - and no promises as to what I’ll end up doing yet, since I have no idea myself at this point…in more ways than one.

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Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

First off, congratulations on your new home! It looks like you're in a beautiful area! I think writing about your new life on Just Hungry would be fine!

Charlie | 7 June, 2010 - 21:34

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

The area is just wonderfull! If I could only speak some frensh it would be a great place to go to on a trip.
I too think writing about everythink concerning your new live here on Just Hungry would be fine, but I won't mind if it were elsewhere.

clarissa | 7 June, 2010 - 22:10

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

That looks like it'll be a grand adventure...if not now, in the experience, at least when you look back on your life when you're old! =D While I wouldn't mind seeing the trials and tribulations of the New House on Just Hungry, I really feel that streamlining a blog's content helps keep things focused. I wouldn't want to see one of my favorite Try This New Recipe blogs turn into just a story blog, unless you balance it really well, or you have a recipe that ties in directly to the rest of the blog post. Well, that's my two-cents!

Athena | 7 June, 2010 - 22:22

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

What a great place to be. A little challenge does add to the spice of life. Please feel free to talk about your new home with your planning of the new kitchen, and what you will plant in your garden. Maybe "The Guy" may make an appearance?

Best wishes!

Bill Countie | 7 June, 2010 - 22:27

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations on the new house, and bon courage with your renovations! I'll be your neighbor soon; I'm in the process of renovating a village house in Faucon, just near Vaison, and *should* be moving in this August.

Looking forward to more posts about your experience in Provence!

jenschi | 7 June, 2010 - 22:31

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations ! La Provence is a good place to live in France :D
It's seems that the house you bought has a really "vue imprenable" !

I wish you good luck to do renovations. It will take time if you don't have enough money but I think it would be great once done. If you have some knowledge in renovations it will be cheaper to do it yourself.

Writing on Just Hungry would be fine for me too because once it would be finished, you will start with provençal recipies :D

Darany | 7 June, 2010 - 22:36

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Wow Maki, it looks amazing! The views are worth it alone. I hope the renovation goes well and you settle in. I always find before moving in is an enourmous stress, but once I'm there things always go smoother.

I would love to read about your new life in Just Hungry, you've always managed to keep the balance of home life and food related stuff marvalously well before so I don't see why things should change. Part of the reason I like reading this blog so much is because it feels 'alive' and not just like a recipe book.

Well, there is my 2p of British Sterling anyway : P

anon. | 7 June, 2010 - 22:49

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I think it would be wonderful if you continued to blog about it here - I'm loving reading about Provence!

Lori | 7 June, 2010 - 22:52

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Your new home is beautiful (the views!), congratulations! I think it's perfectly acceptable to mix in posts about your new adventure in Provence, France along with your food posts. This a blog not just about your food but your life experiences and how food fits in with it all. I'm looking forward to posts about your new home along with your hinted creative cooking posts. Good luck remodeling and trying to remain sane!

Van | 7 June, 2010 - 22:53

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I for one would love to hear about what you get up to in France on this blog. But, if you choose to start a new one I'll probably follow that too.

Nikki | 7 June, 2010 - 23:16

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would love to read about your time in France here. But, if you choose to make a new blog I'll probably read that as well. :)

ikkin-bot | 7 June, 2010 - 23:24

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Looks like you've ended up in a beautiful area! Personally I'd prefer to hear about the new location on Just Hungry (I already have more blogs to read than I can ever keep up with!)

Kalynskitchen | 7 June, 2010 - 23:40

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Don't care where you post as long as you DO! "Justhungry" won't be bento only either way.

And LOTS more pics!!

I think I can say - we're all jealous!

Chris Huck | 7 June, 2010 - 23:49

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would love to hear all about your new house! It sounds like a wonderful adventure ... and it'd be great to read about somebody else's adventures, they are so much more amusing when they happen to somebody else!

Whether you choose a new blog or include the posts in this one doesn't much matter to me. I'll enjoy them either way.

Enjoy your adventures.

MikeW | 8 June, 2010 - 00:17

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

totally jealous and would love to read about your renovating/adjusting adventures!

katnhwi | 8 June, 2010 - 01:08

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

My husband, mother-in-law, and I spent a day in Vaison-La-Romaine and absolutely loved it. Of course this is from the stand point of a Canadian tourist. Regardless, it is a beautiful area (Provence) to settle. A huge "Congratulations" to you and your family on your move.

It would be fantastic to read about your Provence adventures on "Just Hungry." Food influences your life and your life influences your recipes. Go for it!

Bonne chance!

J.L.B. | 8 June, 2010 - 01:12

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would totally read your adventures. Your house kind of sounds like the "Money Pit," the movie with Tom Hanks. I think there's lot of potential for it. It's all about location, location, location!

Daniel | 8 June, 2010 - 01:28

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I think you should write it all here! I would enjoy reading about it

girlrobot | 8 June, 2010 - 02:33

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Bienvenue en Provence Maki! Like everyone else who's written so far, I'd love to hear about your settling in and it sure makes it easier for us to be able to read it on Just Hungry.

But Athena makes a good point about keeping a blog focused. I like her idea of tying in a recipe to the story. Another way of avoiding dilution is to have exclusive trials and tribulations stories as occasional "guest" entries, though it's hard to imagine you writing a story WITHOUT some interesting mention of edibles or cooking.

While researching a grill called The Big Green Egg on the net, I discovered a new interesting food blog, and in it a review of a small grill called the Cobb which might be very useful to you in the kitchen-less days ahead: http://www.friday.com/bbum/2008/08/22/the-cobb-compact-portable-versatil...

yk | 8 June, 2010 - 02:35

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations on your move! Your new house sounds absolutely lovely. I would definitely be reading your adventures there. In my opinion, having a blog just for that might be a better option since you've already defined the scope of your food blogs.

Have fun!

PatriciaM | 8 June, 2010 - 02:54

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Wherever you blog it, I will read it. I'm very much looking forward to reading about your life in Provence. I wish you much luck with the renovations!

yoko | 8 June, 2010 - 03:10

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I think writing about your new life on just hunngry plus your new food experiments/experiences together would be great.

I'm Lazy and having things in one journal makes me a happy girl =^,,^=

MissB | 8 June, 2010 - 03:34

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I don't follow your blogs themselves all that much, yet. A friend interested me in Bento's recently, and I've used your blogs as mainly a recipe resource for which I wish to thank you. Sometimes, though, I take a look a the current entry before I click on the recipes, and I think it would be wonderful to see entries about Provence, especially pictures. It looks absolutely amazing, the kind of place that us Americans don't see ever, unless we're lucky enough to travel across the Atlantic.

Lainni | 8 June, 2010 - 04:15

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Wow, what a view! I would love to read about your new life right here at Just Hungry :)

Cathy @ ChiefFamilyOfficer.com | 8 June, 2010 - 05:22

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I'd love to hear about your adventures in Provence!

My preference would be to read about it on a new blog.

Thanks for asking.
ZZ

zsuzsi | 8 June, 2010 - 06:07

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I feel strongly that "single-minded" blogs are better, especially since this one has a big readership, gained as a result of it being about something they are interested in - Japanese culture and Japanese food. Writing about your life in France would dilute that content, and thus the value of the blog. I definitely think you should start a new one, which I'm sure will be as equally well erad, maybe by a slightly different audience of people who are interested in France, or considering moving there themselves.

What I would be interested in reading about here, however, are things that related to your being a Japanese person living abroad - how you adjusted to different cultures and foods, and how leaving Japan has made you feel about your home country. (I am a foreigner living in Japan, hence why I would find this interesting!).

Keep up the good blogging!

ganinja | 8 June, 2010 - 06:24

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Amazing! My husband and I are mega-jealous!

I'd read pretty much anything right here or on justbento. I don't mind non-food posts at all and find that you always have great insight. :D

I also am wishing I lived in a bigger city! Maki book tour extravaganza would be rad! ;-)

erisgrrrl | 8 June, 2010 - 06:27

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

All for reading about your new adventures ;)

ruskie | 8 June, 2010 - 07:19

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would love to read about your life in Provence on this blog. I came across this site because I am interested in food and cooking, but I follow this blog because I like your writing, your thoughts, and your perspective. It's what make the site unique. Of course, if you choose to start another blog to record your adventure, I will definitely follow that too!

Sue | 8 June, 2010 - 08:11

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would prefer to read about your new adventures here, actually.

Many of your readers (myself included) are constantly going different places -- moving, being citizens of many countries, etc. It'll be refreshing to read about your life in a new country, plus the fun (and challenges) you have cooking Japanese food in rural France. A lot of people here post saying "I can't find Japanese food" or "I live too far away to make anything good" but they forget what local produce has to offer.

I look forward to your posts from other countries and areas. I feel that's what makes "just hungry" a great food blog.

And unlike many other food blogs, you don't have to scan through five pages and 100 images about someone's children to get to a recipe which you could've found somewhere else!

Alundra | 8 June, 2010 - 08:38

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Wow, what a beautiful locaton ... the river, with it's clear blue water and rocky shores and the soft green trees. :)

I would love to read about your adventures in Provence on Just Hungry(less blogs to keep track of). Though, I would read yuor posts wherever put them.

I am intrigued by your search process - which places you eliminated and why.

Jennifer C | 8 June, 2010 - 08:45

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations! And here would be just fine.

kim | 8 June, 2010 - 09:37

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hey there,
Congrats on the new adventure! I love Provence and i'm sure you'll have an amazing experience there.
I live in Lyon and although there are a few asian supermarkets, when it comes to cooking Japanese i buy my food here http://www.japancentre.com/
I used to go there all the time when i lived in London. The quality of the products is good, they ship pretty fast and i think the shipping fees are quite reasonable. I sometimes do group orders ( which i doubt you'll get a chance to do in Vaison but still....).

Check it out, it might save you the trip to Lyon ;)

Again, good luck for everything!

anon. | 8 June, 2010 - 10:00

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations Maki!
You're certainly not work shy! We have a house in the mountains of Alicante that originally had no kitchen, nowater except for a well and still only has a generator for power. I know much work will be involved.

It's because of this that I'd like to see a dedicated blog with a few food related entries in this one that invite people to go and explore it.
I think the current balance you have with the Just Hungry site is perfect (I'm more of a Just Hungry fan than a Just Bento follower). I'm not sure if I would have appreciated all that Just Hungry has to offer if my first encounters were a succession of posts about settling into a European location.

Loretta | 8 June, 2010 - 11:45

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations! And welcome in France, I think your place choice is good, except the lack of japanese ingredients.
I would enjoye reading your new adventures here or on a new blog!
Thanks for ask.
BONNE INSTALLATION!

Esther | 8 June, 2010 - 11:49

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

And you will need a copy of the Petrarch Sonnets to complete your romantic getaway.
Wonderful place to watch le tour on le Mont.

richard | 8 June, 2010 - 16:22

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I'll be interested in how you deal with cooking on a hotplate, since that's what I have -- plus a microwave and a toaster. I live in a basement flat that thinks it's still a laundry room. I can always go upstairs and use the real kitchen --- but I'm old and tired and don't want to climb those stairs any oftener than I have to. So I'm looking forward to some interesting hotplate recipes.

djheydt | 8 June, 2010 - 17:52

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

So excited for you! And I was touched that one of the reasons you choose your new location was for your mother.

scrapper al | 8 June, 2010 - 17:54

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Pretty brave. We have a townhouse in Burgundy but it's in fairly good shape. I will be working on the kitchen this summer(if I can scavenge up some workers).

Rosemary Mullally | 8 June, 2010 - 19:14

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I love reading your blog and everything! New adventures in France? GREAT! ;-)

Bessie | 9 June, 2010 - 00:32

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Having just discovered your Blog a month ago, I don't have any preferences... I was just happy to get an update on you move. I envy you!!! I was in the south of France about 6 years ago in Bandol and Cannes and I absolutely loved it!
Am looking forward to getting information on the transformation of your dwelling. Je suis heureuse d'avoir découvert votre Blogue!
Jackie

Jacqueline Carriere | 9 June, 2010 - 00:54

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hi Maki!

Congratulations! How exciting! I already know I'll be living vicariously through you!

I wouldn't mind reading about your Provencal adventures on Just Hungry or on a separate blog - I already automatically go to my Just Hungry bookmark, then click on the Just Bento icon, so clicking one more time after that wouldn't be hard at all. :) I feel like you might feel a little more free if you write the Provencal related musings on a separate blog, rather than on Just Hungry, where you may worry about straying from the Japanese cooking. That's just my gut reaction, and as we don't really know each other personally, you can take it or leave it. :) Felicitations and Omedetogozaimasu!!

Mariko L. | 9 June, 2010 - 01:32

Re: to stay or go?

Hi Maki,

I'm very excited to read about non-food stuff going on with you - the house sounds amazing; congratulations on finding something and good luck with the renovations.

I would suggest creating a new blog for non-food discussion. (My Life in Provence-type deal.*) I tend to like things organized/compartmentalized, and I imagine most of your readers would happily click away from here to read the new blog.

Meanwhile, those readers more interested in recipes can stay put.

*Makes me think of 'Under the Tuscan Sun,' a supposedly excellent book.

Emily S. | 9 June, 2010 - 01:44

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Keep up your story on Just Hungry - it will be so much easier to follow! And congratulations on your move. We lived in Switzerland for 10 years, and flirted with the idea of moving to Provence more than once. We still might!

Lynda | 9 June, 2010 - 01:57

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations on your new house and new adventure! Please do blog about it here. I don't think there's a need for a separate Provence blog.

Ruby | 9 June, 2010 - 04:30

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congrats on the move and hope everything and everyone settles in smoothly. I've enjoyed your blog and I think your new adventures in Provence should remain on this blog -- it's all you, all about the food and your relationship to it. Doesn't matter where you are. Thanks for all the work and time you do take to write and share with us!

hoodedzippy | 9 June, 2010 - 06:46

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hi Maki

I look forward to vicariously living and renovating in Provence! Whether here on JH or on another blog, whatever works best for you.

Do you follow Patricia Well's blog? Was taken aback when I recognized the address of the restaurant she posted about today:

http://www.patriciawells.com/blog/1932

Cheers, Robyn

RobynNZ | 9 June, 2010 - 08:23

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would *love* to read about your life! I don't care if it's here or in another blog, so long as I know where to read about it. I suppose it would make more sense to keep it separate from this food blog, but like I said, I don't really care so long as I can read it.

If you start another blog for it, however, "Just Life" might be an appropriate title. ;)

Kukki | 9 June, 2010 - 16:25

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations! The view is fabulous! Please include your adventures on Just Hungry! One can always choose not to read if they don't wish to.

tiptup | 9 June, 2010 - 16:31

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I'd love to read more about your adventures on this blog! When I lived in Provence, I just fell in love with Vaison... so congratulations on your choice to live there, I'm very jealous! Best of luck!

Annemieke | 9 June, 2010 - 16:36

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I've never commented before but I've been reading your blog for a while - I love the stories *as well as* the insight into Japanese cooking. I especially enjoyed your postcards from Japan! So I just wanted to pitch in and also say that I'd be happy if your Provence stories went up on just hungry too - I'm curious to hear how Provence will treat you (hoping it'll be good of course) just like I was interested to hear about your Swiss adventures. Sorry for not saying it before, but thanks for keeping such a lovely blog! (it's been helping me get through the dark days of finishing my PhD ^_^)

Yael | 9 June, 2010 - 18:59

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations on the new home!
I don't mind reading about the new adventures here or somewhere else.

Karrie | 9 June, 2010 - 19:03

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hi Maki,

I'd love to hear about life in France on this site. Good food isn't about where we are but about who we are and what we find to cook with!! So, please tell us all about it! Cheers!

pasha | 9 June, 2010 - 21:38

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

You write so well, I will follow you wherever you go.
I am french (a US citizen now) and love to read blogs.
I enjoy good, healthy recipes and good stories.

Nadege. | 10 June, 2010 - 02:48

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Non-food posts once in a while are great and is a good break from food for me. However, if you are new to the site, it might be a bit confusing.

Jenny | 10 June, 2010 - 03:16

Re: to stay or go?, post scriptum

1. To clarify my earlier point, I'd be très heureuse to read about it either place.

2. As an aside, you might enjoy watching the BBC version of A Year in Provence, if you haven't already. It's quite good and faithful to the (excellent) book.

In fact, Maki, I have it on DVD and could send you a copy if you like.

Emily S. | 10 June, 2010 - 05:10

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Wow, that sounds amazing! Definitely an adventure :)
I would love to hear about your new life in France on a a separate blog, but whatever is easier for you is okay with me!

Meredith | 10 June, 2010 - 08:40

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hi Maki!

Congrats on the new place!! I have been following your blog very closely for almost a year now (after my trip to Japan last summer) and you've transformed my culinary habits!
You might think that I'm not being objective here, as I'm actually from Valence (kinda between where you are and Lyon!!!) but I think it would be great to read from you and your new life here. And to prove my objectivity, here's a good reason: the search engine on your page is so efficient that when looking for a recipe, one should be able to find it easily anyway!
I was living in Dublin, Ireland when I discovered your blog, and I now live in Singapore, where I can find even more Japanese supplies, and it's really fantastic to be able now to cook so many Japanese dishes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, and best of luck in your new start!

Caroline

PS: I hope my French fellows won't make you experience this "fabulous" customer service we are so famous for and I apologize in adavnce........

Caroline | 10 June, 2010 - 09:00

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Congratulations on your new adventure! This is a cross between A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun. I cannot wait for more updates. All the very best on this new chapter.

Jessica D | 10 June, 2010 - 19:09

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

The view sure is beautiful. Just wondering if you bought the place or are renting it? I read the entry to my mom who just went to France last year and although she loves the view she wishes you good luck with your fixer upper :D

I'm a crazy freak when it comes to organizing (so I have about 9-12 blogs lol) So I would make a whole nother blog however I'm very interested to read about your time in France no matter where you post it.

Hugs and Kisses

Kristalia | 10 June, 2010 - 21:47

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Please write here instead of starting another blog. It makes the whole thing much more interesting. As readers we can make connections to the cooking post if you are writing about your home, kitchen, country side, market where you buy the produce etc.. as well as all the other fun stuff you write which makes life interesting and balanced.

Vinita | 11 June, 2010 - 03:53

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I really like reading your blogs separately - bento, cooking, japanese linguistics stuff... it would be better to have your adventures in life on a different blog also, I think.

Alundra says that she likes that you don't have to scan through pages of images about children to get a recipie, and I feel like that is what you have done here for the most part, but if you start blogging about life adventures it will gradually (or not-so-gradually, depending on how much you have to say! hehe) become such, and will not be as focused on japanese food and cooking.

Sahara | 11 June, 2010 - 04:34

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

You can always go the route of some other blogs and start a single homepage that links to all of your interests. One notable American blog that does this very well is www.thepioneerwoman.com. While the site's content may or may not interest you, her setup is genius. She essentially has six individual blogs, but the readers can pick and choose what they look at easily through the main page. (The consistent personal branding couldn't have hurt her drawing in hundreds of thousands of readers, either.)

Hope that helps, and that your new home turns out to be everything you want it to be. :)

KatKrueger | 11 June, 2010 - 05:47

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hi there
My choice would be a separate blog. There are already too many ' starting a new life in France- books, blogs and other stuff and they are boring, I think. Your Japanese food blog is far more special. So keep it that way.
Good luck
Judith

anon. | 11 June, 2010 - 09:41
maki | 11 June, 2010 - 13:06

get some camp stoves

no kitchen? no problem! i cook on my lanai all the time using an Optimus No. 1 kerosene stove, a Punker marine alcohol two-burner stove, or an Optimus Hiker Plus w/custom burner head (running a kerosene, naptha mix) - you can find used stoves for very little at flea markets, thrift stores, or estate sales.

willie | 11 June, 2010 - 11:49

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Either way, it will be great to read about them. Personally, I don't think I could separate so clearly between food and non food items, so I'd probably keep them together, but again, that is personal.

The view from your new home is amazing. I can totally relate with ADSL being more important that running water. I'll keep finger crossed for the renovation work it needs - and buy your book just to help financially as well :)

Caffettiera | 11 June, 2010 - 17:17

Maki-san, we love you so much - so, write! Just write!

My heart is too full to tell you everything that your generous writings have meant to me and my household, so for now I will simply say:

Food in its finest manifestations is an almost mystical synergy between time, place, soil (or "terroir"), air, light, feeling and history. Enjoy your new environs, while I enjoy the anticipation of what you will produce from it all and how you will change that place and how it will change you.

no kitchen! Existentially hilarious!

We love you! Do write as you please and don't feel you must divide & categorize. :-D

heidi

heidi | 11 June, 2010 - 19:12

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Firstly, I read your blog intermittenly.Being a person that does not spend too much time on the computer/internet (by choice)- yours is a blog that I do read.Your entries gives me a glimpse of another life.( used to live in europe, now australia)

And for this,thank you,kindly.

Congratulations,on moving to provence.How wonderful.

I'm happy to continue reading of your adventures on this blog - just hungry.An exciting new chapter for you, and for the blog.

anon. | 13 June, 2010 - 08:31

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would love to hear about your experience, here or in another blog.
And as a provencal-bento-maker-student, welcome !

Hini | 13 June, 2010 - 10:02

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Bienvenue en Provence! I love Provence; I was just there a year ago for the lavender fields. Can't wait to read about your new adventures!

anthony | 13 June, 2010 - 21:07

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Bonjour Maki-san! Do share and write your experience in France. I have always enjoyed your writings and recipes, both from JB and JH. I have always wanted to live in France, but never got the chance to do so. Partly financial and partly of the unfamiliarity. Maybe I can learn something from your experience and perhaps you can give advice on things to look out for. Who knows, perhaps one day, I will finally take the plunge and start my own adventure in France :)
Bonne chance!

p/s:Will be finishing my studies soon, if you are looking for cheap labor (Ha! Ha!), just tell me where to sign up!

chkee | 14 June, 2010 - 02:08

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I love everything together. You're a wonderful writer and seeing how you think--food or not--is a joy! Keep everything together! :)

Nicholas | 14 June, 2010 - 02:26

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

first time commenting (and congratulations on the book! btw)...
It really depends on how it's done and how much content there will be.
I really enjoyed the postcards from kyoto series...because it really gave me a sense of place, which to me adds richness to the food one is eating/making/trying to make as well. I also think one's surroundings really affects one's cooking and eating habits so in some ways even if you were to write about non-food related topics, it may still end up relating to it.

If you decide not to do it in justhungry...it would be nice if it was linked like justbento so it's easy to get to because I definitely want to read about it even if it's not food related since I studied in France before and wish I had found a job there

rebecca | 14 June, 2010 - 22:54

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would love to hear more about your new life in France. So continuing your blog in Just Hungry would be great! I've been following your blog for quite some time and I absolutely love it. I enjoy your wit and style of writing. I wish I have talent like yours, fluent in Japanese, English and French. I am learning Japanese currently and I'm finding the grammar ちょっとむずかしいね。
Getting Japanese ingredients will be a challenge for you, perhaps a bit of fusion in the future!
I am looking forward to your new posts and would love to get to know more about the Provence.
頑張ってください!

kyashii | 15 June, 2010 - 03:18

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would love to hear about your new place in Provence. I wouldn't mind if you sprinkle it in here and there along with food-related posts.

Pat | 15 June, 2010 - 21:33

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

To answer your question about reading about your life... i'm just curious to what your life is like and i'd love to read about it here on this blog.

I love reading your blog; you show me more interesting things about japanese cuisine and culture which i'm so interested in and curious about.

Joan | 16 June, 2010 - 21:29

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Enjoyed your posting. Hoping to see more adventures you have in Provence.

BagladyK | 17 June, 2010 - 05:53

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hello! I think it'll be easier for readers to follow one blog instead of two, but for you, it might be better to have two separate blogs, each with its own focus?

yz | 17 June, 2010 - 10:01

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Oh i'm jealous! I spent a few months living in Provence (in Istres, which is in the Bouche-du-Rhone region and is in equal distance from Aix or Marseilles) as an exchange student in high school (this was about five years ago) and i miss it! I'd love for you to writing about Japanese food but update us on your adventures in Provence as well. I'm a lifelong francophile and love to learn about and cook Japanese food, so this is pretty much my dream-blog :D

Keep up the good work!

brooke j | 25 June, 2010 - 19:26

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hello and welcome in France !

I just discovered your blog JustBento and from there JustHungry.
I was a good surprise to learn you had just moved in my country.
I hope to read more about your discoveries and adventures here.

About finding workers in France in July and August, you might have a chance in July, until the 20th, if you're not in a too touristic place. In August nothing is done of the building or repairing kind if you're not doing it yourself, until at least the 25th. Then it's slowly getting back to work.
The real problem is that in August it's difficult to get material (often it's "out of stock" until the industries companies are back in full production) and so nothing can be done. For example, you might miss a few parts of your kitchen furniture or appliance, so there is no use for kitchen builders to work in july & august. (sorry my explanation'd be clearer in french)
You might be able to find some local handyman to work for you for small repairs (like changing a toilet if you don't know how to do it yourself or don't want to). Look for flyers in your mailbox or in the shops...

It's sad because july & august are two great months for cooking.
The vegetables & fruits are wonderful, so tasty, especially if you just get them from your garden. It's the season to make reserves (canned or frozen...).

Did you think about buying a barbecue?
It's the season for grilled cooking and will help you until you get your kitchen and cooker. Some had a removable top that make it kind of like an oven...

If you are looking for japanese products there are several french shops which sell on the internet and deliver by post. Their websites are in french.
www.sushiboutique.fr (free shipping if you buy for 50€ or more)
www.satsuki.fr (shipping is 6.90€)

There is also a shop in Paris (near Metro Pyramides) which specialized in mangas AND bento product (no shipping).
They have a newsblog : www.komikku.fr

I hope this might help you.
I'm looking forward to read more about your cooking and your french adventures
; )

Raphaëlle | 26 June, 2010 - 13:56

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hi Maki,
We did the same thing a year ago, uprooting our family and moving to the south of France. We are living in the south-west in an area called the Gers. We absolutely LOVE it (after 12 years in New York). I love to cook and frequent our local farmers markets all the time- amazing produce! My only complaints in the food department would be in the fresh fish department (I'm sure this is not the case in the Provence and... very hard to find asian markets (our closest city is Toulouse 1.5 hours away and we never go). Have you discovered a good online source in France? I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you!! and good luck :)

Tara | 26 June, 2010 - 15:19

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I'd be interested in reading about your life in France wherever, although if it's here, perhaps you should change the name of the blog to "Not Just Hungry"!

stino | 26 June, 2010 - 16:57

keeping blogs focused for search engine rankings

Hi Maki,
I've been an off and on reader of your sites for a while now and really appreciate the insights you have to share into Japanese food. I live in Osaka but my Japanese isn't great, so you're a wonderful source to help me understand the products I find in my supermarket downstairs.

I don't mind personally where you post about your life in France, but have a professional recommendation for you. I work in search engine optimization. Your sites enjoy good rankings for many topics relating to Japanese foods, ingredients and recipes. This is largely because you have lots of links to your posts from other sites. Keeping your sites focused on these topics will continue to ensure those good rankings and all the great free traffic I'm sure you get from Google and other search engines.

My recommendation for SEO is that as long as you are going to write about Japanese cooking and foods, keep it on this blog. The geographical location doesn't matter. However, if you are going to shift your focus to writing about French cooking or Mediterranean cooking, you would do better posting that on a new blog both to preserve your existing rankings and to encourage good rankings on topical keywords for those new topics. It's really challenging to get good rankings for a site with a sprawling set of topics.

You're welcome to e-mail me if there's something I haven't made clear here. I feel like I've gotten so much free advice from you (although impersonally) that you're entitled to a bit of free advice too.

Kate | 28 June, 2010 - 05:48

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

It seems like living far away from access to Japanese/Asian shops might make your creativity more applicable to others who also have less access to those things. I live in Eastern Europe, love to read your Just Bento blog, but any time you reference tools or ingredients, I just have to sigh and say, yet again, that one's not for me.

Lois | 1 July, 2010 - 19:20

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Its beautiful... Im so happy for you, Sensei... may you live there happily. Everything will surely be alright!
It does make me wonder, how thousands of young people around the world dream about living in Japan, while your Mother, Japanese, doesnt feel very healthy there.
I think its great if Sensei continues writing here, I so agree with many comments before!

anon. | 5 July, 2010 - 17:35

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Definitely more about the house, the village and your new life!

Earnie | 6 July, 2010 - 21:34

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I would prefer to read it all right here. By the way, I am loving this new adventure. I, too, often day dream of doing the same thing! Can't wait to follow the journey.

Chez Us | 19 July, 2010 - 18:08

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I agree with Athena. If a new recipe ties in with the rest of the blog then that would be much better. So I guess as we learn about your life in France adding in new recipes with your adventures would make it all the more interesting.
By the way I love the view from your window! It looks beautiful.

Bee | 20 July, 2010 - 21:13

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I'm green! Your new location sounds great, challenging but great.

Only yesterday I discovered Just Hungry but already had plans to return. With the addition of Provence I'll return often. However, even if your life in Provence is a different site, I'll visit as Provence is one of my top 5 places in the world though I've visited only once.

Speedy recovery!

Teri/Murongyi | 22 July, 2010 - 15:08

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

You are so lucky!!!!! The views are incredible!!!! I hope you have a great time in France!!!!

lili | 27 July, 2010 - 06:05

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

I love Provence and I wish you all the luck and patience. I am reading your blog once a month and the format of it does not matter to me - the blog is always interesting to read.
As for Provence - we spent a month last summer in Aix and this is one place where I would love to stay much longer. We spent one month in Bordeaux this winter - lovely city - they are planning to start fast trains to Paris from Bordeaux - 2 hours - unbelievable. Once again, please keep writing - your French experience, which in my mind is almost a synonym to food and art, might change my future :-).

anon. | 14 July, 2011 - 17:40

Re: The start of my new adventures...in Provence, France

Hi Maki,

What a coincidence; we did nearly the same thing at the same time although we don't live in France just yet! We go there more or less every month though (from England). Our place is in the South West, Lot-et-Garonne.

I came across your blog last night and since then I have kept reading one page after another. I'm addicted :p

I'd love to read more about your new adventures, preferably in a new blog. Maybe I'm wrong but I think we have certain things in common and I'm interested to know more of your personal side.

Please take care, don't work too hard.
Wishing your fast recovery!

All the best,
TM

TM | 17 November, 2012 - 01:18

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Just Hungry is a site about Japanese food and home cooking, healthy eating, the expat food life, and more. [log in] or [register]

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maki Just Hungry is a site about food. There are lots of recipes and much more. You may want to read about Just Hungry, or contact the site owner, Makiko Itoh. To dive in real deep, try the site map.

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