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It takes less than two hours by train to travel from the bustling city of London to my English cottage that's tucked away on the border between two shires, Dorset and Wilshire. On a cold and foggy November afternoon a few years ago, I boarded that train for the first time, and eagerly looked out the windows as we steadily made our way through the cultivated English landscape of rolling hills and groomed old estates. Over streams and rivers we went, bending back and forth underneath brick bridges and passing stone cottages that dotted the edges of narrow countryside lanes. A taxi picked me up at the other end. I pressed my nose up against the window, trying to peer through the fog that seemed to grow thicker and thicker the higher we went. As the driver easily navigated what seemed like impossibly narrow streets that wound through the little town situated on the top of a Saxon hill, my excited nerves were calmed ever so slightly. You see, I was on my way to see my love for the very first time, and I felt a bit nervous.
We hadn't yet met, but I knew it was love at first sight—or at least, at first photograph. The night before, I had tossed and turned for hours, blaming my restlessness on the full moon that lit up the guest bedroom I was staying in like it was daytime, all the while trying to hold back tears. I failed more times than not, soaking my pillow with tears of feeling lost in this big world. I'd been struggling to find my voice, a direction, and a home.
After years of travels and living abroad, I had moved back to my home country, Norway. I had thought, perhaps naively so, that I was going home, which of course I was in a way. I had returned to my childhood roots, but when I unpacked my suitcase after more than twelve years of living in various places around the world, a result of my work and studies, all I could feel was that I was lost. The woman I'd become after all these years was not marinating in homecoming bliss, that comforting feeling of knowing you belong. Rather, I was sad to acknowledge that all those years had changed me, leaving me with a deep gratitude and love for where I was born, while acknowledging that the woman I'd become might belong somewhere else.
So there I was spending the night in a bed-and-breakfast in England, between a job shooting a campaign for an American fashion brand and meetings in London, crying big wet tears of not knowing where I belonged in this world. "Where do I go from here?" I desperately wanted to type into the search box on the Internet. So I did, or nearly did. I wiped my eyes clear of salty tears, opened a blank search page on my mobile phone, and typed, "Houses for rent in England."
Little did I know how those very words would change my life forever.
Twelve pages in, I fell in love. With a house.
It was love at first sight, and I knew, inexplicably, that this was my future home. I looked at the photo of the white thatched cottage with a tiny garden surrounded by a white picket fence over and over. This cottage was my home—I could feel it—and it really didn't matter where it was located. As far as I was concerned, I already lived there anyway.
In a smaller text underneath the photo, the name of the town was written. Shaftesbury, it read, and I sounded it out in the dark moonlit room, as if I was learning to pronounce a word for a magical spell for the very first time . . . Shaftesbury . . . The next day, I was on the train. And it didn't take much persuasion for me to sign on the dotted line. Eagerly, I returned to Norway, only to pack my bags and return to England for a shiny new chapter—to my new...
About the Author-
- MARTE MARIE FORSBERG is a professional food and lifestyle photographer, as well as the creator of the blog My Cottage Kitchen. Her work has been featured in magazines and newspapers around the world, and she regularly runs cooking and photography workshops. Marie lives in a charming cottage in the English countryside with her English pointer, Mr. Whiskey.
September 4, 2017
Forsberg’s first cookbook is a charming ode to her English cottage, which inspired her My Cottage Kitchen blog. A professional food and lifestyle photographer raised in Norway, Forsberg embraced the local markets near her adopted home in the Wiltshire countryside and settled there to cook. Her travels throughout Europe are reflected in her recipes, but the heaviest influences are her Norwegian childhood and her new life in England. Many of her family recipes are included, such as a warm salmon, mint, and potato salad and Norwegian pork belly with mustard coleslaw. Her mother’s presence is strongly felt throughout this homey—if at times precious—book, with recipes for her elderflower fritters; a comforting sour-cream porridge; and a frothy concoction of sugar, egg whites, and cranberries called “Troll Cream” that her father enjoyed every year on his birthday. She updates some traditional English nursery food, including a truffled vegetable toad-in-the-hole; foie gras and kidney bruschetta with parsley; and a Campari citrus marmalade. Unique soup recipes stand out, such as kale and almond soup, Norwegian yellow pea soup with thyme, and potato soup with smoked salmon. Rounding out this eclectic collection are elegant yet homey recipes as varied as tomato tarte tatin with burrata, black pudding with scallops and caviar, and a wild rabbit and snail stew. Forsberg has presented a delightful selection of comforting and hearty recipes.
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