I first had Pâtes aux Cêpes, or pasta with porcinis, during an enormous fit of order envy. I was having dinner with my stepfather in Nice after I had just arrived. And whenever I'm lucky enough to touch down in Provence, I make a beeline for pistou. In Provence, the French version of pesto is smashed together with sun-ruddy tomatoes, packed with basil and garlic, and slick with olive oil. It's gorgeous—except for this one time, when it was literally jarred green pesto mixed with heavy cream. Such a disappointment.
And then across from me sat my happy stepfather with his usual Cheshire Cat grin, swirling fresh tagliatelle (Provence's favorite pasta—it's everywhere) around a fork studded with fresh porcini mushrooms and his favorite (and hometown) Normandy cream. I asked for a taste and regretted it immediately because once you taste heaven, who wants to come back down to earth?