Back home in Auckland again and full of the joys of temples in trees, children on knees, flowers with bees and lunch on leaves. It's been hotter here than it was in South India! This year we had no acts of God in the guise of storms, strikes, deaths (not a guest I should add) and bans, mainly because I spent a lot more time praying in the temples. The gastronomads totally got what Tamil Nadu is about and were paragons of time keeping and openness to new experiences. All this was, of course, facilitated by my very wonderful manager Diggi who not only knows everything about Indian religion, history, geography and politics (don't get Indians started on politics) but he now also cooks, sings and dances. If he dyes his hair red I'll start worrying about my job.
We ate lobster by the sea in Chennai, got covered in fish slime at the outrageous Pondicherry Goubert market, did yoga almost every day, ate pepper chicken on banana leaves in Chettinad, went wild over Madurai streetfood, drank a lot of South Indian coffee (they boil milk then add a coffee/chicory syrup) and had a cooking class in a rain pavillion at Rajakkad in the Western Ghats. Bookings are now open for January 2019 and I already have enquiries so carpe diem and all that stuff.
We have a few places left on the second Basque tour 7-14 July this year and a couple of places left on North India 21-31 October ... but other than, that 2018 is full! So... if you're keen to run away to an exotic destination with me this year your window of opportunity is closing. My 2019 tour dates are on the website and bookings are open! It's never too early to plan a Peta Mathias Culinary Adventure.
Next up is the Vietnam tour at the end of March then off to my other home in Uzès, South of France. As it turns out my teaching kitchen in the new house there works brilliantly – it only takes two minutes to walk there from the market and two seconds to open the wine. My students say the wine tasting at the market at 9am helps them remember the recipes. I'll be there teaching half-day classes from mid-April till the end of September with absences while hosting tours.