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Living a Culinary Dream in France – the Texan Way

Our names are James and Becky Fischer. We are an American couple from Texas. We have been married for a few years now and in our late fifties/early sixties (guess which one of us is in which – no prizes given). We are both outgoing and friendly or at least that’s what our friends say (although they would, wouldn’t they?). We both have a lively sense of humour, so beware.

We share the same profession. We are both trained chefs and have practised and taught cooking – American, French and World. We love our work and we are good at it. We take it very seriously from the sourcing of the food, to its preparation, cooking and serving. We try to please our customers; but we also try to take them on a journey of culinary discovery. We see it very much as a two-way engagement. That’s part of the challenge and excitement.

  1. Before the Dream

We have moved around a bit; but have our own home, which we really enjoy. We are both quite handy with the paintbrush and tools more generally, so do a lot of our home refurbishment and decorating. It’s very cosy.

We have family, of course and keep in touch with them; but we have no family of our own. The nearest we have come to date is Coltrane, our pet dog, who sadly passed away.             

We have always worked for others. Different restaurants, different owners. Sometimes together and sometimes separately. Some restaurants have been the best – working hard; but well and learning all the time, as well as being appreciated. Some have been less than the best, but we could always move on. However, we have never worked for ourselves in our own restaurant. That has to be a dream for any chef worth their salt, so to speak.

        3.  Dreaming the Dream

After all our years of experience in the world of cooking, we wanted to work for ourselves and to create and to develop our own restaurant. We knew Auzon by complete chance thanks to one of our neighbours in Texas, who has had a home there for almost 15 years. He spoke a lot about the Auvergne and made us want to experience it, so we came last year on our first visit.

              There was a restaurant in Auzon, called La Tulipe Noire, which just happened to be for sale. We fell in love with the restaurant and the medieval village, which it served. Auzon is at about 450 metres and built on a spur between 2 streams. It has a collegiale church, the remains of a castle and a converted convent. Who would not have fallen for it?

4. Setting up the Dream Life

We realised all our assets and made an offer, which was quickly accepted. It has been the beginning of a new story, since we left our home in Texas and all our friends and family to come and settle in Auzon.

We would like publicly to thank Christelle and Harald, the former owners of the restaurant, for their generosity to us in passing on their knowledge and experience. They were invaluable in the early days and continue to support us even now. They are the best.

There are also no words to express the kindness and hospitality that the inhabitants of Auzon showed us. Some came to support us from the moment our container arrived to help unload all our things, others brought us fruits and local products. Their looking after us has touched us deeply. And all the people are delighted with the reopening of this – now our – restaurant in their village.

             These experiences constitute heartfelt discoveries, exchanges and longer-term shared relationships.

Becky and James can be contacted at:

Address: 16 Place de la Barreyre, 43390 Auzon, France

Telephone: 00 33 4 71 74 9961

This is CoalTrain the origin for the name of the restaurant of LaTable du Charbon (CoalTable)
First Love in the Pet Department

This is Jezebel – dressed up for a party. Also known as Jez. Has one of the best barks on the block.
Second Love in the Pet Department

Table du Charbon Menu (1 of many) by Becky 

– Good Selection

– Cuisine Française

– Well-crafted and illustrated (the fisher person is charming, no?).

– Modestly priced

– Bon appétit alors!

So, not much to complain about there!

Certain tensions became apparent in this post. Witnessing publicly to the truth of one’s own experience turned out to be not easily compatible with the successful running of a cafe/restaurant in a small French village. Lots of things could not in practice be witnessed to at least not in public, for example the confidences of customers, mismatches between the local culture and that of the proprietors, when it came to opening times, ups and downs, which would affect business and so on. A private diary would be a better basis and preparation for a book, than a public blog. So reluctantly…. it has been decided to continue the old post as an occasional series – one in which witnessing to the truth of one’s own experience continues to remain possible for Becky and Jim . The occasional series will be intercalated with a new direction.

The new direction is encapsulated by the manifesto slogan ‘ Experience and Meaning as Lived’. La Table du Charbon is becoming the social centre of the village. People come for morning coffee, some for lunch, others for an aperitif, yet others for dinner….On all these occasions, they profit to discuss the daily news, politics, philosophy, the meaning of life and so on. Indeed, one could think of La Table du Charbon as the intellectual centre of the village and with even more imagination maybe even the Cafe de Flore, during the time of the existentialists and in particular of the best known of these – Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Cafe de Flore d’Auzon? Sounds good. Possibly a bit on the ambitious side; but nothing ventured, nothing gained. But for that, a novel philosophy or at least a novel philosophical angle is needed……. A whole new novel philosophy seemed a bit ambitious, even for a blogsite with a title such as ours. However, we realised that we already have an appropriate novel philosophical angle – the meaning of life, as witnessed by the truth of our experience. In other words <meaning4all>. Sartre and De Beauvoir may have conceptualised Existentialism; but we are actually trying to operationalise it, that is, make it work in terms of the experience of attempting to give our lives meaning.

How to go about it? We plan to identify the existential concepts, which we will try to include in our operationalisation, consistent with out blogsite aims and which we intend to carry forward. We will then report back how we are getting on. Feel free to join in.


Yesterday, we were driving to Clermont to go to Metro and pick up packaging for emporter and some food. As the passenger I was just admiring the scenery. I couldn’t help but think how much scarier it was to live here during the days of War. The confinement is seriously a minor inconvenience to us all. Yes, it will have great consequences. But, I can still go out, buy groceries, exercise, walk Jezzie. I don’t have to worry that because a light is shining in our building, we may be shot or blown up. And as I’m thinking these thoughts and feeling thankful- J says I’m really tired of all of this. I know so many people are, but we still have so much. Sometimes too much- and maybe that is the lesson.


The other things that you would have had to worry about is whether to collaborate with the Nazis or to resist them. Interestingly, Vichy became the capital of occupied France under Petain in opposition to Charles de Gaulle in London and the Free French. The Massif central, with its forests and mountains became a place to hide and the Auvergne acquired a proud reputation for those choosing to resist. There are many memorials locally to Auzon paying tribute to the courageous actions of the resistors, including those tortured and executed. So…I agree with you that confinement is a minor inconvenience compared to this; but whether this constitutes a lesson, I am not so sure. What exactly do you think is the lesson? Be grateful for what we have? Implement confinement without due thought and reflection? Ignore complaints about the reduction in civil liberties? We must be told. A toi!


Quelques plats, faits sans recettes.

Plat 1 Hello Bacon and Onions

Plat 2 Time for Truffade

Plat 3 The Marriage

Plat 4 The Humble Potato

Plat 5 Tomme Fraiche

Plat 6 Becky’s Tartiflette


La Table du Charbon, 20 January, 2019 from Becky

Everyday the mail holds something new. Last Friday a summons for Jim to report to language classes. Mine has yet to arrive. The beauty of France. Everything comes late in the mail and the woman is secondary. I do my best to “hold” my tongue. I wish I could say these are language classes. At this point NO. It’s how to read a train schedule, how to navigate internet.

I trust there is some logic, but why would you start with “conjugation” before the alphabet? The French alphabet and pronunciation premier! Baby steps. We are in a class of immigrants just like ourselves. It’s s0 bizarre to me – they speak French. But possibly they cannot read a train schedule. We Do Not mind being classed as immigrants We Are Immigrants.

But…We are business Owners! We do not seek employment, we do not ask assistance from the government of France. We pay our taxes to France, we pay to vendors, we help to put money into the economy – please do not hinder our business anymore. If France wants wants business to thrive – Do Not squeeze the life out of the little man.

La Table du Charbon – Cuisine and Architecture by Becky

This post speaks for itself. According to Becky, it illustrates a possible relationship between architecture and the products of culinary art. Pont Neuf is a Parisian Bridge and it is constructed here of chips – although fairly sturdy ones. It prompts a range of questions:

  1. The dish is called Pommes de Terre Pont Neuf. A catchy label; but no mention of pommes frites. How about: Pommes de Terre/ Frites Pont Neuf ? Or even Pont Pommes de Terre/Frites? Does this matter?
  2. The dish has structure – no doubt about that; but is it (sufficiently) specific to Pont Neuf? How about Pommes de Terre/Frites Structurees or Pommes Frites Structurees or Pommes Frites Baties? Again, does this matter?
  3. Is the relationship associative as well as structural? How about Pommes de Terre Echafaudage (Scaffolding)?
  4. Maybe the relationship is only associative? How about Pommes de Terre/Frites Tour de France/Massif Centrale/Gare du Nord?
  5. ……..

Please add and answer at your pleasure. Interesting responses will be posted. 

The recipe
Recipe cont’d
Culinary Architecture?

Valentine’s Day menu 14 Fevrier, 2020

Not sure whether to foam at the mouth or to drip from the lips………