Take Me Away

pineapple sorbet & rum-coconut friands

I’m not at all well-traveled. Sometimes I foolishly think that I am; my love of food and my cookbooks have been my passports, my tour guides. Although the physical journeys have been few, through self-teaching and reading, I’ve traveled the globe. I’m a curious cook and an adventurous eater (within reason). It may take years to learn Arabic or months to fully understand, to easily breath in and exhale, the cultural mores of a foreign region, but one bite of something new can bring you cheek to cheek with a nameless stranger on another continent. In that bite, you can learn practical things — what crops are fertile, what flavors most popular — but you can also dig a bit deeper, feeling the pulse of the region and what moves its people. Take North African couscous. Not just the mini pearls of semolina, but the dish itself. Large trays of sandy stewed and jewel-like ingredients. It’s a symbol of family, community, patience, care.

The farthest I’ve traveled physically was to France on a ten-day trip with my French class way back in high school. I appreciated it, but I know I didn’t take from it what I would if I were to go today. I was just too young. I can’t help but think it was a wasted opportunity. I couldn’t possibly see the world at that age in focus when I wasn’t even grounded in my own.

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