Mimi Thorisson: Beauty And The Feast

Trading city life for a home in the countryside, Mimi Thorisson and her photographer husband, Oddur create an epicurean wonderland

Photographs by Oddur Thorisson | Words By Natasha Inchley

“We just woke up one day and decided to have the ultimate escapade,” says Mimi Thorisson on what would be a most life-changing decision: moving her family of six children from Paris to the tranquil countryside of Médoc, near Bordeaux. “My husband and I were very much city slickers, then we stumbled upon this beautiful house and thought ‘why not?’ It had everything, the vineyards, the sea. It was the life we had always wished for.”

How, then, did Thorisson transport her large family – Tiger-Mia, 10, Hudson, 7, Louise, 5, Gaïa, 2, together with her two step-children Gunnhildur, 16, and Thorir, 14 – from town to country, both logistically and emotionally? “The kids thought it was terrifically exciting, they were under the impression it was just one big holiday,” she says. Thorisson, however, was pregnant at the time, and admits she felt lost for the first six months. “The insects, the cobwebs, the dust and the bees, even the mud on my feet, I was a little bit precious about it all – but that was then. Now I’m not scared of spiders, I’ve really become quite rustic.”

She soon started her beautifully curated blog, Manger, at the request of friends who wanted to learn more about her food diary in the country. Born in Hong Kong to a French mother and Chinese father, Thorisson had previously worked as a journalist for CNN, and so the urge to keep writing was strong. “I come from a family that loved food, my grandmother and aunt are particularly good cooks and my father is obsessed to the point he was always taking us to new and strange places in order to find the best meatballs or dim sum. That had an effect on me,” Thorisson explains. “I always have food on my mind, and perhaps like the nose of a perfumer, I can imagine mixing flavours like in a palette. Yesterday, for instance, I woke up with one idea in my head,” she says. “Butter chicken!” 

“I’ve always loved to dress up, even in the country. I’m not a jeans girls, although I try. I like to keep myself well dressed because it's one of those things that tends to make you feel good.”

– Mimi thorisson

Thorisson works with her photographer husband Oddur to capture their epicurean ideas. The pair first met by chance in Paris at a Fashion Week party. Oddur was based in Iceland at the time and Thorisson was working in television. She says,  “Since that night we never left each other – within two days I was in Iceland with him." Their creative partnership further fuels their connection; the couple also share a great passion for dogs and count nearly 20 Jack Russells and smooth Fox Terriers in their brood. “We are very much a union; we share the same aesthetics and same vision on life. We do disagree on the number of dogs we should have, though,” Thorisson says with a laugh.

As Thorisson tells it, her new life revolves  entirely around family and food. “There is so much variety here, our neighbours are snail farmers, another neighbour has duck and our butcher has clever ideas. We buy eggs fresh from the farm and I ride my bicycle to the market for cheeses. We all speak the same language of food and it has been wonderful exchanging recipes.” 

Thorisson has been busy these past few months preparing recipes for her soon-to-be-published cookbook, whilst also filming a television series based on her country life. When the pressure mounted she found comfort, of course, in cooking; she considers mealtimes to be precious. “Our ritual has always been to enjoy food together. For us, a meal at the family table is the most important part of the day and at the weekends we always have Sunday best, the kids wear their best clothes and it’s a bit of an event,” she explains. “We are very firm with manners, at the table it’s a moment of poise, and also the children know it’s that time of the day when they can really talk to us about anything. Food has that effect on people,” she says. "Good cooking really does connect people and comes straight from the heart."

Thorisson’s scoop on motherhood

  1. How she recharges: Those times are rare. I’m always with the children or gardening and cooking, but when I do get the chance I love going to Bordeaux, walking the streets, scouring through antique fairs, taking the time to disconnect.”
  3. The greatest lesson she has learned from her children: That great love, of course, but now I'm also more patient and generous in my time and understanding for them. They’ve definitely taught me how to be a stronger mother.

“We are very firm with manners, at the table it’s a moment of poise, and also the children know it’s that time of the day when they can really talk to us about anything."

– mimi thorisson