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An Edible Gift Basket Inspired by the Beauty of Provence, France

I have always been inspired by the natural beauty and rich culinary history of Provence, France. And so when I think of putting together a special gift, whether for Mother's Day, an engagement, a bridal shower, or just a friend for fun, this hand-curated basket has become my go-to gift idea.

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A piece of my heart belongs to Provence. You could say my career began there, as I received my masters in culinary arts at Auguste Escoffier. Upon graduating, I stayed to work (without pay) in the 3-Michelin-starred Restaurant Christian Etienne. There, I learned how to take apart a pigeon, washed dishes until my hands bled, found comfort in peeling onions, and most importantly, I left knowing what it meant to work hard and to be kind in a kitchen. In the organized, strict hierarchy of a French kitchen, you respected those who ranked above you, valued those around you, and adored those below you. I was a bright-eyed cook with a lot to learn, but I found that I was respected as the ultimate goal my chef had was to teach me everything to know about cooking.

 

 

How to Host a Provencal Meal

I also learned a lot about the region of Provence. While living there I had my fare share of their herbs, formed a love hate relationship with their produce (I spent so many hours working with tomatoes), and embraced their impeccable style. Despite my broken French speaking skills, I managed to make lifelong friends and by the time I left, I felt I had a family, and we sure had fun together. 

 

Six years after leaving Provence, I went back. But not alone, and not to work. My fiance brought me to Avignon, and we dined in the very restaurant that made me the cook I am today. Countless courses later, we spent time socializing with my former camarades in the kitchen.

 

A few years after this most memorable meal, I traveled back with my best friend and her mother, who has always been a mother to me. Driving by the lavender fields, drinking rose wine, and eating way too many baguettes, things were different now that I was older, but the sentimental feelings remained the same. I have been able to spend time in my favorite place with some of my favorite people. And so when I think of putting together a special gift, whether for Mother's day, an engagement, a bridal shower, or just a friend for fun, I immediately think of bringing this region, this feeling, to life in a basket.

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I think a porcelain pot -- which can be used for potting new flowers in the spring and summer months -- makes the perfect vessel. My go-to is a blue and white pattern, but any pot will do. Fill it with some of my French-inspired stuffers. Mine was for a brunch, so I included some culinary essentials: a book from the master (aside from Martha!), a bottle of French champagne, freshly-squeezed orange juice, an orange, and a juicer. A freshly-baked baguette with fig preserves, homemade apple butter, and mascarpone make nice food gifts too.

 

Lavender would be iconic, but it's not always readily available. I love branches and carnations, and my favorite color is white. Pull inspiration from the things you love and supplement things to fit the preference of your recipient.

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Ultimately, that is the key when putting together a gift basket. If the recipient can tell that a piece of your heart is inside, the gift, no matter what it is, will be a good one.

 

Get Even More Gift Ideas Inspired by la Provence Style