Any Way You Look At It

I don’t want to just fade away on you.  And lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what will happen to French Letters once we leave France.  Most of them start with some variation on “I hope you’re going to keep French Letters going.”  And normally I say that no, French Letters is about my life in France, and if I live somewhere else, I can’t very well write about anything French.  But on further reflection, I think that’s not getting at the whole truth.

French Letters is a blog about France, yes, but it’s really a blog about how I see France

and about how France sees me, for better and for worse (although actually in French you say “for worse and for better” which tells you something right there).  It’s the story of my life, as I’m living it today.  In other words, thinly disguised as the story of food, wine, and France, it’s really All About Me.  Probably I should blush as I say that, but I think you might have already figured that out for yourself, and if you’re still here, you must not hold it against me.

Sometimes I do turn my eye squarely on French life, and France is what you see.  And I know that one of the main reasons you’re here is because you like to see France, in all its wonderful variety.

Sometimes I’m barely there, adding a light layer of commentary to the events of my day,

sometimes I try to let you know how the world looks through my eyes by explaining, interpreting, translating,

and sometimes I put myself, and Shel, front and center.  Lately there’s been a lot of that, and I’ve been sharing our life with you even though a lot of it has nothing specifically French about it these days.

I want to find a way to continue to be with you, because French Letters is so much a part of my life now that I can’t imagine leaving it behind when we move next week.  Clearly it needs to change, to undergo a transformation and a transplant, just as we ourselves are doing.  But I find myself at a loss for the Best and Brightest Idea.  So many of you have offered to help in our current troubles, and here’s a way you really can. Tell me what you’d like me to write about next.  I’m all eyes

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

27 Comments on “Any Way You Look At It”

  1. Eden Says:

    Abra your phtography & writing (not to mention your cooking!) will carry the blog even without France, but as a focus for the moment perhaps you could look at your transition back & how you cope with the differences, like only having a farmers market once a week, and no bakery next door, and whether you find a way to keep up your language skills etc.

  2. chefjess Says:

    Abra, as much as I love France and seeing it through your eyes, I came to French Letters through your cooking friends (and now mine too) and for your recipes. I stayed for your prose, your pictures, your honesty and your view on life. Whether you are in France touring around, in Washington or elsewhere in the United States, none of that will change. I know your life will change greatly as you head back and for the coming time, if that change allows you to write, that is enough. If you chose to do more, that would be wonderful too.

  3. Sandra Gilmore Says:

    I think that all your readers believe that you and Shel will return to France and continue your dream. This interlude back in the United States will be just another transition period. I read your blog in part to live vicariously in between the visits my family and I are able to make to France. Please continue to allow your readers to also live your dream by publishing your French Letters…all about France and details that you remember and look forward to experiencing again and tips, recipes, ideas, memories and pictures, etc.

  4. charity Says:

    I love what Jess said. same goes for me. Everything grows and changes. I have a suspicion you may find solace in photography and writing and so figuring out a way to keep it going could be good for you. Not for me to say really.

    I love these reflective photos.

  5. Margaret Says:

    I can’t imagine my going without French Letters. Don’t stop—with whatever title you choose. There will be Bainbridge Island things to tell us about, and there will always be recipes and good eating. Hang in there.

  6. Actually, Abra, I read your blog because of YOU, not because of France. I would be reading it no matter where in the world you were. I love your style, your writing, your photos, your recipes. Please continue.

  7. Vicki Says:

    I have to say how much I have enjoyed reading your stories of France. ChefJess has said it best already. I would miss reading your stories and I am sure you would bring the same wonderful writing and photographs to where ever you are.
    Good luck with your cancer treatment quest. I have had some personal experience with this and I know it is difficult. My prayers are with you and Shel.

  8. Brother Mark Says:

    Same goes for me – it is more than about France – it’s an essay on life, which presses on no matter where you go. I continue to send healing to both Shel and you. If your travels bring you close enough to DC, I’d love to see both of you.

  9. sue geisler Says:

    In a way, Abra, you’re about sustenance. your enthusiasm about food and cooking,your love of animals and, not the least, your devotion to Shel.

    you’re a sustainer and we read you for your that as well as news – the pictures are nice too.

    if the months to come are tough, you’ll need to have friends to share the highs and, hopefully few, lows.
    We’re here – old and new – young and old. We need you as much as you need us. Hang in …..

  10. Jan Says:

    Several people have already said it well. Great writing and beautiful pictures will work no matter where you are living. The important thing is that it comes from your heart and as long as you’re true to that, you’ll have an audience. Probably not the specific suggestion you are looking for, but that’s all I’ve got right now. Thinking of you both.

  11. Jennifer Southcott Says:

    Please don’t make me take French Letters off of my favorites bar. (I check it every day) I originally tuned in because I was going to be spending 3 weeks in the south of France, but I have stayed because I’m a foodie and I love to cook/eat/drink and I love to read about cooking/eating/drinking and nobody does it better than you whether in France or anywhere else. I will miss the cats as well. Your photos never fail to amuse or brighten my day. I doubt you will stop enjoying cooking and photography and we won’t stop wanting to share that with you.

  12. Wolfgang Says:

    do continue by all means your wonderful essay, maybe ” French letters relocated” be aware that not only US folks read it and anywhere you go your descriptive writing will be appreciated.
    I bow my head in deppest gratidude and respect.
    Thank you for your work and dedication to and or in it !

  13. Sharon Says:


    The reason I read French Letters is to keep connected to one of the most foodiest of friends I’ve ever known. Sure, the adventures in France were awesome, but your recipes in my collection are most adored by this chef and my guests. I can’t imagine not reading French Letters! Plus, I’m rooting for Shel. Good luck with your move and do keep writing.

  14. Margaret Pilgrim Says:

    French Letters is indeed as much about you as it is about France. But do you not understand that it is just as much about each of us who shares and reflects on your response to what each day and season brings? You write for all of us as we cook and share community and travel and cope.

  15. heidih Says:

    I agree with those posting before me that I come to read for your life perspective rather than just “France”. The best parts of France and the lifestyle are now a part of you and you filter all experience through it. That is what draws me. Life through a French filter perhaps? I can not imagine the complexity of your current challenges, but to the extent that writing and posting helps you both, please, please, continue.

  16. Linda R. Says:

    I like the name French Letters no matter where you are. I so enjoy your photographs and observations, whether in France, in Washington or wherever you may find yourself. I think the name can remain a constant.

  17. max higgs Says:

    Please don’t stop. You have no way of how much pleasure you, your blog, photographs have given me. The “letters” just kind of pop up on my computer….it is like an unexpected meeting in an unexpected place with a dear friend. I like the name regardless of where you are, but if you want to call it “all about me”, well, that’s fine too. I feel bad about asking you to continue to give when you and Shel have your hands full, but whenever you can, I will gladly receive and treasure what you send.

  18. Lori Says:

    I don’t think I could say it better than some of the comments above. I think whatever you choose to do, you will have readers. I loved your posts at egullet and followed you here. You have a joie de vivre that is infectious. To me, your blog is a reminder to enjoy life, now matter where you are or what’s going on. Sending healing thoughts!

  19. Tamara Says:

    Abra – You know that I am not much of a writer, but I am very much of a reader, and you, your words, your photos, and your experiences and insights are a wonderful part of my day. Like others before me, we want to read what you have to share, wherever it is. And even though you may be challenged to find the time to keep it up, I suspect that being able to articulate and share what is happening can be a healing experience for you and Shel. Love T

  20. Debra Lane Says:

    Abra, I think you absolutely can continue it! As I see it, France is just the beautiful backdrop of your present experiences and your food. You can continue it with your food explorations in the Puget Sound region. While the ambiance will be decidedly less French, it will still have the essence of why we read your blog and that is great food and great writing. The backdrop that is France will just be replaced with ferry trips and mountains and NW vineyards. While you may have to search harder to find the historical visions and stories that France offers, you will still have substance and beauty here in the NW.

  21. Meredith Says:

    I love reading French Letters because I love the way you see the world and the way you express yourself. I came your blog via following you on eGullet. I came for the food but stayed for the company. I hope you’ll continue to write in any way you feel inspired. Our fiercest prayers go with you and Shel.

  22. Nina Says:

    Abra, today we had our second miracle. My husband has started taking a new medicine, and today the scans showed a marked reduction in the tumors, and we are so very thsnkfull for the time this will give us. I pray that there will be similar hope for you in Seattle, as there has been for us in Boston.
    I hope to continue to read about your life, your food and your journeys.

  23. Edye Says:


    As much as we can all make suggestions about what we would like to see, and experience with you. French Letters originated from your heart. It spoke to you and transformed from one thing to the next.

    At this time in your life, when so much is being given to Shel, perhaps spending a few moments each day, stay with your own heart, your own soul. Give to yourself and see what surfaces. We will all be here for you no mater what.

    Whether you are in France, North America, or Timbuktoo. You have given all of us so much no matter what – we will always be supporting you and waiting to see what transpires for you and from you. I don’t think I speak for myself when I write, that whatever happens, we have all been a little transformed by your sharing so much of your life and are grateful for all the times, food, photographs, recipes, friends, etc. you have shared with us.

    God bless you and your family. May you find peace in all you encounter.

  24. Jeanne Says:

    Do you remember the scene from “The Devil Wears Prada” when the writer is trying to get Andie back to his hotel – they are walking through the streets and his comment to her is “Gertrude Stein once said America is my country, but Paris is my hometown” ?

    French Letters may have started when you were in France, yet it has always been about your observations of life. From those early days with the scorpions, to Zaszou’s arrival, your travels through Europe, meeting new and old friends, and food! – you have taken us on a journey and we are not going to abandon you now. We are along for the ride, no matter where you take us – and we are here for you, in our comments, in our prayers and always in our hearts.

  25. John Says:

    French Letters has been about a journey in a new place. You’re about to have a new journey in an old place. You’ll see it through fresh eyes. Food either will or won’t help cope. Write about all that. I’m confident it will be interesting, perhaps arresting.
    Good pics, and so properly different from the food porn.

  26. Jim Bradford Says:

    Dear Shel and Abra, your wonderful perspective on life should continue as French Letters because you two have been influenced for evermore by France. Food is just your opening gambit as I have found you are such keen observers of life that your story no matter your location will be of interest. My sincerest hope for successful treatment Shel. You are truly a person with gravitas and you have influenced Abra to please so many people. Old number eights was nostalgia I could relate to in my hometown and Abra’s descriptions of life and travels have given me new insight on places I have visited in Europe and I look forward to you doing the same wherever you folks go.

  27. Wendy Says:

    Even if you aren’t living in France, France lives in your heart. And as you already said, the blog is really about you!
    So carry on…
    Just my 2 cents 🙂

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