I have signed up for a CSA this year. All the amazing seasonal veggies, I am so excited. Inspired by the restaurant, Balena, I served roasted spring beets with burrata (mozzarella with cream inside), topped it with a spring green garlic and lime vinaigrette.
Three years ago, I quit my job as a hair designer and makeup artist of twenty some years. The money was dwindling. When I say dwindling, I mean 20% of my salary every year for the last five years that I worked there. Perfect timing to have a child, huh? I was just wanted to be home with my young son and not spend most of my time away from him to make a viable living. When it got to the point that transportation, daycare, business expenses, etc. were costing more then what I was making, I knew I had to quit.
Not sure what kind of change I was going to make to support Gabriel and myself, I started doing hair out of my house and I started a food blog. A food blog? What the hell was I thinking? Remember, I am in my mid-forties. No college education and I have been only a hair designer for most of my working life. I am responsible for a young child. He only has me and I have become the working poor for the first time in my life. The kind of poor where you have six bills in front of you and you have to decide which one will get paid. I was really lost, but the blog was my refuge from all the chaos. I kept telling myself that there has a way to make a decent living from my home, so I can also be the hands on mom that I wanted to be.
Spring pea shoots, cilantro and garlic greens on hearty farm bread and goat cheese. Now that is a snack!
One thing I managed to do through all the tough times was make my son feel secure enough that he has never worried. One time when the electricity got shut off and it was going to be two days until they got turned back on, we strung extension cords from my neighbors apt to mine so that my fridge and a few lights would run. (Cool neighbors, huh?) Gabriel thought it was all a great adventure. Somehow in the middle of all this crap, I was able to put homemade meals on the table everyday. Everything from scratch, because it saved me money. It was one thing I knew how to do.
Blogging exposed me to people that love beautiful food like I do, people that love to entertain and celebrate. I have truly met kind, supportive and generous friends in the amazing world of food blogging. They helped me keep my spirits up. I kept thinking about Oprah saying to me through the TV, “Just do what you are passionate about and it will come to you.”, like she was Glenda the Good Witch.
Blogging led to my new consulting career in doing social media for different food related companies. Hooray. I somehow managed to change the momentum of poverty that was happening to us by staying with my passion. Now that the wolf is no longer at the door, I need to catch my breath and really think about the path that I am carving and where I want it to go. I realize that I have been dreaming about my life being lived more adventurously lately. Wow. What a luxury.
Frillman Farms eggs are so fresh and tasty, you do not have to do much with them. Feta and scallions added to my morning omelet made me realize I should never be with out these beautiful goodies in my home. Get farm fresh eggs whenever possible.
My son is eight. He will only be with me for ten more years. I want to give him all that he needs to lead a passion filled life. In doing that, I also have to build a nice life, independent of him, so he can go off in the world with no worries about me. He needs to know that I have a full life and career, not worry about some martyr mom at home. I also have a twenty-five year old son that just wants to see me happy and foe-filled. This is really good incentive for me.
What I am passionate about and what I want for myself and children are all boiled down to food and getting to the most natural food source there is. My 8 year old has severe food allergies and I am overweight, like a 100 lbs overweight. How do I loose weight, protect my child from getting ill, and live passionately with food that I adore. Do other mother’s have these same issues? Do they have these issues in different countries around the world? Does having a clean natural food source something that you have to fight for in every country? Is it a rich or poor thing? Is it a political issue? It is our culture around food? Is our food source so pollutant that it is effecting the entire planet in different ways?
With more questions, then answers, and a desire for adventure, I have some come up with an idea for a journey. A true sojourn. It all started with an offer from a high school friend of mine that lives in the Bangkok. Patrick lives there and suggested that I come and he could show me all the ins and outs of how fish sauce is made there. Really? I was intrigued. Then I started thinking bigger and connecting my different resources mentally that I knew that I had.
City Farm baby carrots and Frillman Farms radishes. I just served these as is with our meal. Delicious.
Next summer, Gabriel and I are going to travel the world and ask all those burning questions in all the different cities that we are going to visit. Now I have to make it happen and I have to figure out how to get this tripped sponsored.
Stop 1: London
We will investigate how people eat there. In the US, 15% of children now have food allergies. It is increasing everyday. Is it the same in the UK? How do they handle it? Our school system is having a hard time feeding children well to begin with, but you should try getting the right help for a kid with severe food allergies. Does a different health care system help?
Stop 2: Paris
I am lucky to have a brother that has lived there and has some good connections. France’s food source is the most locally sourced in the world, but they are also battling a rise in obesity for the first ever with fast food chains expanding there. We will talk to chefs, school age kids and see how France is handling their obesity crisis. I have a few surprises up my shelve for our Paris adventure.
Miso & maple syrup baked tofu with sauteed swiss chard and brown/white rice. We are converting to all brown rice in our house, but thought we would do it gradual. You should see how Gabriel chokes down tofu. I make him eat it, but he hates it. He drinks about a gallon of milk (rice milk) to wash it down and it is spurting out of his mouth like he is trying not to have the tofu touch his tongue. Hilarious. He enjoys the Swiss chard, though.
Stop 3: Istanbul
Wow. I know that we could spend our entire time in this amazing city at the markets. How I love Turkish cuisine, but how well will we eat when my son is highly allergic to all tree nuts? (He does not have an air born reaction to nuts, though) If the Turkish culture does not have much experience with food allergies, will they take the request seriously or think nothing of using the same spoon for the nuts and then stir something that they will serve to my son? Interestingly enough, what would be our alternative…junk food. Ironically, potato chips, or McDonald’s would be a choice that we know he wouldn’t get sick on.
Stop 4: Bangkok
We will explore this amazing cuisine through their street food and how the locals eat. We will be able to visit a local school and see how the children eat there. How soon do the kids start eating chili? My son does not like spicy heat in his food. He is going to have a harder time with this then avoiding nuts. *Ironic: Not only do I have a high school friend that lives there, I have a nursery school friend that lives there as well. Two friends from my childhood in Michigan that live in Bangkok. That is so wild to me.
One thing I love being a part of a CSA share is the unusual vegetables that I receive that I have never tried before. This salad is made up of burrata, sliced turkey, red onions, cucumbers, haricot verts, roasted beets, tatsoi greens, and purslane. I tossed it all with a lemon vinaigrette. What a treat.
Stop 5: Philippines
Gabriel’s god parents have been doing relief work there for over 30 years. I have been blessed to be able to have been there twice already. On the island of Cebu, the pig roasts are considered some of the best in the world. Anthony Bourdain even filmed one for his show there. We will as well, but I have the best sidekick ever. Gabriel will be up for anything when it comes to pork. The community there is such a wonderful welcoming group of people. I look forward to connecting with all my old friends.
We will also visit, weather permitting, a small remote island that has no local food source what so ever. (It will be a long boat ride and if too stormy we won’t be able to visit) In the 70′s, some short sighted fishermen from the island, decided to take some dynamite to the coral reef that fed the entire island. Thinking that having all the fish coming to the surface, would make quick work of all the fishing, not realizing that they would kill their food source permanently. This has effected them for generations. Malnutrition is abundant. How do people manage when there is no local food source?
Stop 6: Sydney
One of my best buddies, Christy, since the fifth grade lives there and is also the base for one of my clients that manufactures an amazing vegan bouillon product. (Massel). I really look forward to seeing if I can get my son to even try Vegemite. I like fermented things like a good scotch whiskey, so I will give it a go. I also understand that the food scene is amazing there. Australians are a healthier then Americans as a whole. Maybe it is all the warm weather or is it their food culture?
We plan on documenting our entire adventure through video, photos and writing. Gabe will have is own video blog so we can hear about the adventure from his point of view. We would like to spend a week in each city to make it a little more manageable pace for us both.
I am sharing this with all of you for several reasons:
I would love your ideas on what you are concerned about. What are your issues?
Do you have a child with food allergies? Would you travel the world with him?
Do you have any ideas or contacts that would add an interesting prospective to my trip? Any ideas whom I can solicit to help sponsor our trip?
I really need to spend the year getting in shape to make the most of this trip. I need some accountability with people checking in on me. I would love the support and the occasional pep talk to keep the course.
The journey before the journey seems as important and the journey itself.
My eldest son, Andrew, my brothers, and my sister, as well as few friends are telling me which part of the journey they are going to meet us on. I love that and everyone is welcome. If you aren’t joining us in person, join us on the journey’s documentation via my blog leading up to it and the journey itself?
Join me in the exploration of the world’s communal tables.
Pull up a chair, Elizabeth