What’s for food? Where to next? Believe it or not, these two questions roll through my mind each and every day as I search my mind for ideas for my next delicious meal, or my next far-off adventure. Appetites for both, insatiable. Food and travel, the fabric of my being. And, as it turns out, the subject of my little passion project.
My love of travel was borne from station wagon adventures. Each summer, my family and I poured over maps and guidebooks, and followed the yellow-highlighted road from Miami to Buffalo and back each summer as we traveled over the river and through the woods to my grandparent’s house. These road trips were filled with laughter and music that started with Disney and morphed into Weird Al and all his greatest hits before my brother and I grew up and retreated into our Walkmans and Game Boys, and Mom and Dad saw fit to finally take back the radio. After that, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and John Denver crooned as we drove through West Virginia and beyond. Though we made this round trip at least twenty times through the course of my childhood, it never failed to be an adventure for us each time with diversions to Baltimore, the Luray Caverns of Virginia, or the Corning glass factory in New York.
While these were hardly the sorts of trips akin to those splashed across National Geographic, these experiences combined with my own parent’s travel tales created a broader appreciation for the world outside our small Miami suburban bubble that made me want to see, well, all of it. Souvenirs of their own escapades were visible in every corner of our house from gilded tapestries from Burma to cuckoo clocks from Switzerland and steins from Oktoberfest. It seemed every trinket had a story about where it come from and how it was obtained. A feature of my own home nowadays. I guess it’s safe to say I learned by example.
In the same way that I can trace my love of travel to those childhood road trips, it’s safe to say my love of food is also rooted in family, and the food we shared not only around our own table, but those of our friends as well. My mother, Canadian by birth but Hungarian by descent, and my father, who hailed from across the globe and was raised on the Bay of Bengal, made for an admittedly interesting mix. Growing up in a multicultural household, it wasn't uncommon to find dahl and rice served alongside cabbage rolls and paprikash. Further, we lived in Miami, surrounded by a group of friends that were happy to show their love through food and thankfully share their own family recipes; arroz con pollo, empanadas, dosa, and more bites from around the globe often found their way to our table.
The reality was that Mom just never makes a bad meal, but until I started cooking for myself, I couldn’t truly appreciate it. I grew up eating the furthest thing from bland food one could imagine, and I surely wasn’t going to start when I finally ventured out on my own.
So I started a food blog, on a whim, and here we are almost seven years later still eating well and traveling often. I styled it in a way that would ensure that I made the effort to cook proper meals as I cooked for one. I drew inspiration from not only my own family’s food traditions, but those of my friends, and most notably, my own travels. When I travel with my friends, we aspire to eat a lot and to eat well, and so cooking transported me back to my favorite places with my favorite people, eating our favorite foods; favorites that often end up become regulars on the dinner menu.
Now, so many years later, I think back to my family’s loose change jar, the largest Costco-sized pickle jar you’d find, with the words CHINA FUND crookedly penned on the label. In it, we all eagerly dropped our change, hoping that one day there might be enough collected to take our party of four there. And so while childhood road trips were our reality, we were taught to dream far and wide, and so we did. While none of us have yet made it to China, it was those early lessons learned in the bed of a fire engine red Volvo station wagon and around our kitchen table that taught us that seeing the world outside our backyard was not only important, but necessary. And wherever we went, we were to eat a lot, and eat well.
Good food and good travels. I wish the same for you.