How Jen the Catalyst became a Cook

My love of cooking didn’t ignite until I got to Paris.  It was fate that brought me together with very unusual circumstances:

  • Unlike my classmates who were staying with families, I was staying with Mlle. Bourgain (a sweet woman in her 60s who had never been married, was a lawyer by profession, and lived in a lovely apartment with a mother-in-law suite which she chose to fill with fresh-faced, excited American students studying abroad). 

Mlle Bourgain and me, 1992, at her apartment in the 18th

  • I found a part-time job. 

I worked with a family whose father, a Frenchman, worked for the French government, and his American wife.  They had three capricious young French-speaking children and I took care of them most weeknights and spoke exclusively English to them. 


As a result, I had my own kitchen space courtesy of Mlle. Bourgain,

an old copy of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook courtesy of my American boss,

and a bunch of classmates who were routinely subjected to dinner choices of eating with their families, eating at the cheap student cafeteria, or for the same price eating with me at Mlle. Bourgain’s place, in my dining room surrounded by 18th century art and furnishings.

It was easy to find good, cheap beer; but not good, cheap food.

In other words, a great supply-and-demand equation for Jen the Catalyst to make some Cooking happen!

2 comments to How Jen the Catalyst became a Cook

  • K Larson

    I only have to taste one of Jen’s amazingly fresh donut holes and it’s 1992 we’re in Paris.
    Which reminds me…Live in the moment. Learn all you can. And enjoy it with friends. That’s the Jen I know.

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