You guys are so awesome. Thank you so very much for your love and support for this project of mine! Ya know the feeling of being nervous to take that leap? To actually do what you want to do? The fear of failure? Well, I have been having those feelings for a few months and to be honest, I almost nixed this whole idea and I wasn't even going to try. But something in me just kept stirring...God kept reminding me of it. And I realized how sad I would be if I didn't try. If I just let the fear of not doing well keep me from even dreaming up this idea. And then all of you come in with your amazing support last week! Now, I feel more confident than ever! Thank you!
I just wanted to give you all a little insight into my background, how this idea came about and most importantly, the inspiration for all the dishes I will be subjecting my (very-willing) husband, family and friends to scarf down until I get them just right! So, here goes...
Writing a cookbook has been a little dream of mine since before we embarked on our trip. I grew up in a home where cooking was a daily thing, gathering around the table was a must, food nourished our bodies and soul, and taking trips to the grocery store was something we did as a family and I enjoyed (and still do!) it more than I think a normal person should. One month into college, I told my parents that I wanted to drop out of Cal State Fullerton and go to culinary school, but being the sensible parents that they are, they told me NOPE. I had to finish getting my degree and THEN I could go to culinary school. Well, ya know...life happens and I never ended up going. To be honest, it is something I still think about daily -- wondering if I could ever go. But, I had this idea before we left on our trip to use traveling around the world as my own version of culinary school. People that we encountered, stayed with, or worked for could be my teachers. I could "earn my culinary degree" by learning how to cook from people around the world. And thus, my little idea for writing a cookbook called "The Table Trail" was born.
Throughout our trip, I made it a point to ask the friendly people we stayed with to teach me how to cook something local to their country/town/region OR cook something important to them and their family. I did this for many reasons - #1. I wanted to learn more about them, their family, their background and who they were...because food always opens people up! Especially if they are passionate about it! #2. I wanted to learn how to cook with their local ingredients and absorb some new skills that I could implement in my kitchen. #3. I knew I wanted to write this cookbook so each recipe was one step closer to making my dream a reality. #4. Once the meal was cooked, we would sit around their table to just talk. We got to know so many people on a deeper, more personal level because of their generosity, and their willingness to let us into their home, their kitchen and to gather at their table. And, #5. Because we were so far from home, we craved some good home cookin'!
Sometimes, the opportunity wasn't there to jump in the kitchen and cook with people so, in lieu of that, I took copious notes on most of food and dishes we ate throughout the world. In Asia, we ate so much street food that was prepared fresh right in front of us so I was able to see all the ingredients that the locals threw in, watch their technique and taste their beautiful creation! I can't tell you how many times I watched someone make me Pad Thai from a little street cart! Because I do not have a specific recipe given to me from a local, I am going to do my best to mimic the flavors and recreate recipes based on the ingredients we have available here in the US, while staying true to the flavors we experienced.
Other recipes I am hoping to include are those that Sean and I made together in Europe, or dishes that we cooked up with the Kliman's in Asia! Those recipes are fun because we were put in situations where we were at the mercy of whatever the grocery store, or street market or farmers market had! We definitely improvised when we had a specific craving (like pancakes!) or, we fully embraced what was available to us and made dishes that contained everything that was local (like fried rice!).
No matter where the recipe came from, all will have tales from our trip attached. Funny memories, unfortunate circumstances, unforgettable moments, and stories from all of the wonderful people we met and our experiences with them.
I am so looking forward to this new (and delicious...*hopefully*) adventure and I can't wait to continue to share it with you!
Until next time,