gardeners of culture & community

Sometimes I like to spend my Friday nights with a cup of tea in the bathtub. It gives me time to think, and to decompress from the week that has passed. It also gives me space to string thoughts together that turn into ideas, inspiration, and motivation.

I’ve written a lot lately about food. Not gluttonous food, but food that connects me to my family, my friends, my husband, my community, and other cultures.

The first time I had gnocchi I was ten years old. We were in Sorrento, Italy and extremely jet-lagged. We were also embarrassingly early for the dinner hour. It was fulfilling and dense. The texture of the creamy potato base was complimented by a fresh and bright tomato sauce.

Traveling in Latin America I remember two distinct foods: cherimoya fruit in La Cochabamba, Bolivia and tortas in Ensenada, Mexico. The cherimoya had an almost scaly green skin, with a smooth white flesh that reminded me of sherbet in both texture and taste. It also made me very ill, but it was so worth it. It only cost us a few pesos to get the most delicious Mexican food I think I will ever have in my entire life. After painting a house entirely avocado green(floors, ceilings, walls, and exterior), we wandered down the hill in search of taco stands. The women were sweet, the food was spicy, and we were happy to sit in the dirt testing out our laughable Spanish skills. 

Instead of turkey on Thanksgiving, we ate spanish tortillas and watched a flamingo show in Seville. We drank thick hot chocolates overlooking the city from the rooftop as the streets bustled below vibrantly. 

Every morning in Paris, we walked to the bakery down the street for pastries I can’t even dream of recreating in my kitchen. Flaky, buttery, with the perfect balance between sweet and salty. 

We walked the streets of Athens trying not to spill tzatziki sauce from the lamb gyros. Long after the moon rose and the Parthenon was illuminated with spotlights, our waiter gave us ouzo shots. I don’t like licorice. I ate lamb moussaka in San Torini from a rooftop patio watching the sunset over the ocean. 

While in London, we ate in an underground restaurant with belly dancers who served us mint tea and 3 courses of fresh Lebanese food. Pomegranate roasted chicken, lamb, falafels, hummus, and baklava. 

The first time I had real fried chicken with collard greens, biscuits & gravy, and creamed corn was in Charleston, SC at Magnolia’s Cafe. I was 20 years old! 

There is a reason why we associate travel memories with food. It is because food is an integral part of community and culture. Taste is the easiest and most accessible way to experience another culture. It is immediate, it is impressionable, and it leaves a lasting memory.

Reminiscing on these tasty travels landed me back in South Carolina, where I first had a true fried chicken meal. I have written before about eating ethical, and about how Travis and I like to shop locally. It isn’t about morality or immorality. I didn’t realize until tonight, sitting in the bath full of bubbles, that I am obsessed with eating locally because it connects me to this new, exciting, different culture and community that I desperately want to become my own. It is the same reason why whenever someone mentions North Dakota, the Lakota/Sioux, or any type of Native American news or history my attention is immediately grabbed. That community is one that I am part of. I was adopted into it. I have eaten their food, learned to make their family recipes, broken bread at the table and at the alter. It has become family. It has become, in its own way, part of my community and my culture as I was invited into theirs.

I desire that here.

Food – Community – Culture 

Belonging

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