And I Came Home...

Just over a year ago, I decided I needed a hiatus. A change. A chance. Something new. Utterly different. Something to slap me in the face and wake me up. In the Summer of 2016, an opportunity landed on my lap; it sounded too good to be true. And, it was! Too Good and Too True! :)

The long and short of it, is that I spent 10 months, from September last year to July this year, living outside US, for the most part based in Italy, traveling Europe, Asia and collecting information about cultures, peoples' values, real life experiences, what food means to people in different spaces in life and the world,.... and, yet how similar we all are. It was a beautiful experience. It was humbling, it was crushing at times, it was enriching, strengthening and entirely transformational. It helped me come down from my high horse of the 'should' to the confidence and assurance of 'would and could'. {Context on the shoulda-coulda-woulda subjunctive's real life meaning: This TED talk is mind-opening!!}

I spent months doing research into eater behavior, driving forces behind food decisions in developed and developing countries. I was astounded by the universal similarities I had to face and the reality that was the current state of affairs - there was a shrinking room for home cooking. Not that people did not want to. They did. They also understood the benefits of doing so, and, dearly wished they could cook more. But, the realities of life, simply made it hard to bridge that desire and will. Between rising costs of living, longer work days and cramped quarters, there simply was little room, motivation or ability on what we as food bloggers have come to consider a basic part of our lives.. the time, knowledge and capacity to cook, cherish and nourish, rather than purely fuel.

I chose to go to Italy because it was always fascinating to me how they maintained the centuries old food traditions without compromise even in this harried and fast-forwarded life. I have had so many wonderful opportunities to see how the amazing products were made - from a farm visit to a parmagianno-reggiano cheese farm, the cooking for the grape mast for balsamic vinegar, so many vineyards in Tuscany and Val d'Orcia, farm to table meals in utter simplicity to elevated meals of Michelin elegance. 

I found answers.

But, they were not straight forward. I wanted to come back with definitives on how to solve the problems we have in the US. What I came back with instead is an understanding of yin-and-yang, of compromises, of coexistence. You see, the grass is not greener on the other side. It just is a different shade of green or yellow, whatever you see :) Different patches of green or brown.

So, in effect, I was slapped. Revived. I went with the vindication to prove my convictions on "cooking as the savior of the world". What I came back with was a deeper appreciation of the beautiful complexity of people! I came back with a strong appreciation for I have here at home in the US, broken as many of us think it us, especially now. I came up with a burning gratitude for my life.

I also came back burnt out :) Hence the radio silence here. I lost my singularity of purpose as I realized the futility of it. Not that it isn't a battle worth fighting; it is! Just that I no longer think I am the person to fight it. I now see both sides of the argument too clearly and too balanced to be able to throw the weight of certainty either way. I no longer think cooking is the affordable way for the present for an increasing majority. Increasingly, it is becoming a luxury, not a routine as we struggle with juggling life, family, and other priorities...

Then again, lets be honest. As I was reminded by a sociologist, the summation of human evolution has been to optimize (minimize) time spent in food related activities, so we have more time... for everything else and nothing else. Is that going to change? I don't so.

So, here I am... adrift. Yet, for all that, much calmer and much stronger in my ability to listen, and hear other perspectives and perhaps, work towards offering a solution that the other wants not one I think they ought to do.

That has had a huge impact on my life. In my relationships and interactions with friends and family. But, most importantly in my acceptance of me... r

And, so I came Home :)

To me. To my life. With gratitude.

basic-apple-pie.jpg
apple-pie-with-caramel-icecream.jpg
basic-apple-pie-icecream.jpg

These photos are from 2 years ago when we went apple picking in upstate NY. I truly think, looking at these photos today, I appreciate that experience better now, than I did then. Then, it was all fun and games. Now, looking back, I recall the details, the feeling of freedom, the joy of running around picking apples. The moment of childish happiness I was afforded and all the love that went into making one of my dreams come true. The sparkle I felt inside, the sparkle reflected in seeing my happiness. The conjoined joy of a happy afternoon spent in the crisp Fall air, with the stunning colors all around us!

Thank you.