"My grandmother used to make this orange tart. It’s her recipe and I learned to cook it in her kitchen with my twelve aunts. It was always such a busy kitchen.
I was raised by my grandmothers. They’d always say, 'keep your husband by cooking him good food.' When I married François (Cointreau) I started adding Cointreau to the recipe as a sort of new twist on the classic. Most families in this region of France have a bottle of Cointreau in the house though, so it was hardly a drastic change to the traditional tart.
I first met my husband at a party. We were only 17 and it was a soiree for society children, arranged by our parents so we could meet other children from ‘good’ families, as they would put it. On one occasion, there happened to be a power-cut and a friend began playing piano in the dark. I was sat next to François and he turned his head as I turned mine. That was our first kiss. I had a feeling then that he was the man I would marry.
I remember we both had a Solex – a kind of bike with an engine – and we’d ride out next to each other on them and try to kiss. On one occasion, our front wheels touched and of course we ended up crashing. The break wire snapped on my scooter and whipped me across the face. My parents were so scared I’d be scarred for life they sent me to the village soothsayer who put calla lilles marinated in alcohol on my face every day for months. I don’t have a single mark on my face now.
Three weeks after we met, my father tried to scare François off by saying I wouldn’t be given a dowry. My parents were so worried I was too young for a boyfriend that they sent me to boarding school in England. Of course, François waited for me.
When we married we went to see a priest and the priest told us to always agree in front of our children. We have always followed that advice. After thirty-four years, we understand each other. We know what the other’s thinking. I think the key has been to listen and to always talk. Everyday you can turn to the other person and tell them it’s over, the hardest thing to do is to decide that it’s going to work and that you’ll make it work."