While today is a day typical of stuffing and tradition, we also know that sometimes there’s an ache for something more. Something unexpected. Something seemingly at odds with the path you’re currently on. That’s why we felt this article written by Sasha Martin back in Darling Issue 5 was perfect for seeing (and tasting) things differently … even if through the same sort of lens. Bon Appetit.
Spiced Life: Bring the World to Your Table
By Sasha Martin
Four years ago I was 29, a new mother, and married to an amazing man. We still held hands when we went out, but I really knew things were good when I discovered he was content to spend a Friday night at home with me folding socks. We had two cats, two cars, and a small, but nice house in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If ever there was a happy ending, this was it.
I wanted nothing more than to run away. I wanted to dance in a yellow dress on the Italian Riviera. I wanted to roll down the slopes of a giant sand dune in Africa. I wanted to hack my way through the Brazilian rainforest.
It didn’t matter where; I just wanted to go. I’d been to 12 countries before I was 18; I knew the world was an amazing, beautiful place. I was hungry to taste adventure again. I’m not alone in these longings. At some point, most people wish for something other than what they have.
What do you do with dreams like that? Dreams that call to you after you find your happy ending? Dreams that clash with your happy ending? People will tell you there are limitations. Commitments that cannot be ignored. And they aren’t completely wrong. As a new mother, I had neither the financial means nor the time to get up and go. Plus, I wanted to honor my commitment to my family.
In the end, the question for me was how could I add spice to my ordinary life without destroying what was already good? While still getting breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table?
Think about cooking; spices enhance food, yet they are also something that preserve. The heat kills parasites, prevents bacterial growth, and keeps what we have healthy and pure. So, if we are to add spice to our life, we must enhance what we already have, not replace it.
In the end, the question for me was how could I add spice to my ordinary life without destroying what was already good?
What if the secret to the spiced life is to ignore the naysayers and imagine what if? What if we could explore the world? Not just one or two countries, but every country. And what if we could do it without leaving home?
Oftentimes, it’s the most ridiculous ideas that lead us to our greatest adventures.
I didn’t do anything about my crazy idea for a long while. I couldn’t figure it out. Then my daughter turned seven months old, she began to eat solid food, and my longing for the spiced life grew stronger than ever. You see, my husband, while a total sweetheart, was the pickiest of picky eaters. He hated mushrooms, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce … he’d never had fresh spinach before and had no idea what an eggplant was.
Since children often copy whoever has the worst eating habits in the family, I knew we were in trouble. Something had to give.
That’s when I figured it out. How to explore the world without leaving home. We could cook the world. With a few spices and a stove, we could eat our way around the globe together. And so began our quest to eat every country of the world. One meal per country, one country per week. Every single recipe, every single story is recorded on our web site, GlobalTableAdventure.com, so you can embark on your own adventures, too.
Tips for your Global Table Adventure:
I sprinted out of the gate, cooking as many recipes as possible for each country. In the process, I almost burned out. As the project evolved, I found I had to limit myself to fewer, more approachable dishes—ones we could integrate into our daily lives. While some have the time to try a new country every week, a monthly Global Table might better suit your lifestyle. If you set realistic goals, you’re more likely to attain them.
Embrace the unfamiliar.
At first, my picky husband required the peer pressure of friends to cajole him into trying the food or eating with his hands. But my daughter—then just a baby—enjoyed even the funkiest dishes. I’ll always remember the time I made babenda, a dish from Burkina Faso (West Africa) made with dried anchovies, spinach, and fermented locust beans (which taste like blue cheese). While Keith and I resisted, Ava gobbled the recipe up. She didn’t have any preconceived notions. She taught us to open our minds better than any cookbook could have.
The more the merrier.
If you’re single, consider starting a regular dinner party or potluck to add momentum to your adventure. If you’re part of a large family, remember to involve the kids. Now that my daughter Ava is a toddler, she’s right beside me, cooking the food; that’s how she came to love sushi, and that’s how her tea parties became distinctly North African, with dramatic pouring from several feet up. Even the youngest Adventurer can spin the globe to decide where the next dinner will be from.
Perhaps it’s time to take inventory: What crazy dreams are you ignoring, repressing, denying? Maybe it’s time to reframe them and find a way. Even if it isn’t the conventional path, there’s always a path to the spiced life.
Images by A Global Table for Darling Issue No. 5