Petra’s Culinary Adventures

Les Huitres e L'ile Saint Martin, pink sea saltMany people have asked me what my favourite part of our trip to Europe, and the answer is easy—meeting Petra Carter and attending her culinary school. Nestled in the heart of Languedoc, under the umbrella branches of the plane trees, rests Le Souqueto in the tiny village of Mirepeisset.


This is the home of Petra Carter, chef, food writer, photographer, artist…and perhaps the most effervescent woman I have ever met. I found Petra in my search for a culinary school in the south of France and it just so happened that she was holding a weekend cooking course called, “Simply French” that coincided with our arrival in France.

We took the train to Narbonne from Barcelona where we had arranged to meet Petra. As we neared the train station, David asked me if I knew what Petra looked like. “Not a clue. But I will know when I see her.”

We lugged my big suitcase up several flights of stairs—no elevators at the train station even though you depart on the lowest level platform. We burst into a tiny train lobby crowded by people. Was I right? Would I recognize Petra? No need to doubt. I saw her standing near the door wearing a flowing white dress and sporting a wonderful wide grin that made her whole face smile.  “I see her,” I shouted and rush over to give her an enormous hug. I felt like I was coming home.

Salin de  L'ile Saint Martin, fields of pink salt in Southern France

Salin de L’ile Saint Martin, fields of pink salt in Southern France

Petra packed us up in her van and drove straight to the market were the other guests were waiting for us. She introduced the other five culinary students—three from Ireland, one from South Africa, and another from Australia—each holding treasures from the market that they had been assigned to track down.

Amy from Australia asked if I was holding a Canon S100 and said, “Isn’t it an awesome camera! Have you tried all the features yet?” Having just bought the camera, weeks before we left Vancouver, my purchase had been validated and we became fast friends as she taught me how to use it.

Lunch at Les Huitres e L'ile Saint Martin

Lunch at Les Huitres e L’ile Saint Martin


No time to waste. We were off to sight of the Salin de L’Ile Saint Martin, near Gruissan, the home of vast fields of pink Sel de Mer basking in the Mediterranean sun in the shallow waters of the sea. Yes, the home of delicate, pink crystals of salt. Petra announced that we were to stop for lunch here. If this is our first stop, I know that I made the right choice in selecting Petra’s cooking school at La Souqueto.





Salin de  L'ile Saint Martin, fields of pink salt in Southern France

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