Sitting at a small wrought iron table on my back deck, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (Seresin Estate 2005, Marlborough, New Zealand) next to the laptop, and the smell of a blanquette d'agneau au vin blanc (Patricia Wells' recipe from Bistro Cooking) seeping through the French doors (That's what they're called. It's not my fault!) from the kitchen, I can't help feeling the experience would be complete if the view was of the Mediterranean from the cliffs of Cap d'Ail. Or of the small central square in St. Remy, Provence. Or of the skinny, alive streets of the Marais in Paris.
Once again the feeling is the fault of a film, a sad little Spanish film by Imanol Uribe called Carol's Journey set during the Spanish Civil War. Nothing about it should really drive memories of France, except the cobblestones, the exquisite old buildings, the sense of an immediate past . . . but it does.
I don't intend to malign the three b's of North America -- backyards, barbecues and beer. It's just that there are more complete ways (and places) to live, where history has intense and personal meaning, where food and wine sing.