Francis Mayes recently spoke at the State Theatre as part of the SmartTalk series. After I entered the stage door to meet Ms. Mayes, the photographer Neil Anthony was already chatting with her about travel in Europe, and taking photos of her in the dressing room. This series connects the speakers with the audience through ‘conversation’. After the speaker shares her (or his) experience, the audience writes questions for the moderator (Jill Zinckgraf in New Brunswick ) to ask. I love these inspirational evenings.
Tuscany has greatly influenced Mayes, and she shared a bit of the region’s lifestyle, which seems to revolve around food. She explained that if you invite a couple over for dinner, they might bring along some uninvited guests. This caught Ms. Mayes off guard the first time, but once she realized this is common practice, she was always ready to accommodate more people. It’s like everyone is family.
While there, she learned to cook with seasonal and local ingredients. A wonderful meal can be put together with a few simple items. Her love of Tuscan cooking led to her latest venture: The Tuscan Cookbook, which was co-authored with her husband Edward Mayes.
Mayes enjoyed being in Tuscany. She loved to travel, and it served as a nice jumping-off point to see Europe. She ventured off to Turkey, Portugal, Spain, and England amongst other locations. Instead of being a typical tourist staying in a hotel, she’d rent a home and live amongst the locals. This immersion allowed her to better understand the culture. Of all places she’s visited, Portugal, like Tuscany, was a place she felt at home.
The more Frances spoke about Tuscany, the more I felt the warmth of the region, through her experiences with its weather, countryside, wine, food and residents.
Living in Tuscany not only lead to novels, a movie, and a cookbook, but also a travel journal, a photo textbook with her husband, poems, essays, and a furniture collection. I am in awe of how Ms. Mayes re-invented herself after divorce and came back stronger than ever. She is not only an inspiration for divorced women, but for anyone who has ever felt like they were behind the eight ball, or needed to make a change.
Write down 10 things you would do in your life if you had absolutely no fear. Then pick one of them and do it. ~ Steve Chandler