Hep! (That’s the Cancale equivalent of “hi” or hey.”) I’m Mary Margaret Chappell. Mary Margaret to people in the US (Double name. Southern thing.), Mary to most people in France, M or MM to close family and friends.
For 10+ years, I have been living and working in Cancale as a food editor and freelance writer. My past gigs include (in no particular order): pastry chef, caterer, internet startup minion, home and decorating expert, astrology writer, English teacher, technical translator, summer camp cook, theater instructor, Hamburglar (when I was 16 and working at McDonald’s), vegan baker, gluten-free guru, and personal assistant to a well-known French actor. I’ve also waited tables and worked for temporary agencies in between times.
The one constant in my life throughout these job changes has been cooking. Even when I was babysitting in college (oops, forgot to put that on the list), I was finding ways to bake cookies or pop popcorn with my little wards. A dear friend with whom I’ve now corresponded regularly for almost 30 years pointed out that my letters always sound happiest when I am in the kitchen, and when I’m in France. She’s right.
I feel very lucky that I get to do what makes me happy in a place that makes me happy. And for those times when I’m not in Cancale, my life in my adopted home pervades everything I do–and cook.
About This Blog
My Cancale kitchen—the place, not the blog—is a big, bright room at the front of a stone fisherman’s cottage on the Cancale harbor. This blog is a virtual invitation join me in my cluttered, colorful space for recipes, food talk, and fun tales from my life in *my* small fishing town. Just so you know, I have an ulterior motive. I think everyone should know about Cancale, should visit Cancale, and ultimately, should love Cancale as much as I do. Kind of like I think everyone should know how to cook, should cook regularly, and ultimately, should love cooking as much as I do.
About the Recipes
My cooking style is simple, unfussy, as healthy as it can be, and as delicious as possible. It doesn’t fall into one category, but is strongly influenced by my culinary past which is French, Breton, American, Southern, vegetarian, and even vegan. (I could also throw in gluten-free since I’ve become quite the expert in that, too.)
Because I live in a small town, access to the many, many other cuisines I adore is pretty limited. (But I can get fresh oysters just about any time of day or night!) If I crave pad thai or sushi or enchiladas or another regional French cuisine, I have to make it myself. This has made me a much more adventurous and innovative cook than I would be if I were living in a big city where a quick phone call or restaurant reservation or trip to a well-stocked grocery store can pretty much get you any food you could possibly want.
I think food should look as good as it tastes, and taste as good as it looks—and if I had to choose one over the other, I’d choose taste over looks. As a food editor, I used to tell the recipe developers I worked with that a recipe couldn’t just be good, it had to be good enough to make again. And again. I hold myself to those standards on this blog as well.
Finally, I believe all food has a sense of place. Or often in my case, a sense of places. Places I’ve lived, places I’ve traveled, places I’ve read about, places friends talk about, places I dream of going… and of course the place I now call home, Cancale.