I know the ‘real’ future is looming. A future of degrees, interviews, jobs, and most likely the normal – albeit wonderful – tedium of middle class life. But right now, I just want to travel. I want to see, smell, taste, feel, hear it all. I want to watch the Northern Lights dance above Norway and take it into my soul; make it a part of me. I want to see countless stars in an unobstructed night sky as I lay in the middle of the desert. I want to feel the rough, knobby roots of trees that cling to the stone in Cambodian temples, and I want to learn their strength; to learn how to hold on to something that means so much, and never let it go, even though everyone else did centuries ago.
Travel is about finding yourself in someone else’s world, and ultimately, in figuring out that the important things are universal. Everyone cries, everyone laughs, and everyone loves good food. There are times when words aren’t enough to connect with someone, either from a language barrier or something more intense. And that is where food comes in. Cooking a meal for someone is showing them that you care, and, to reclaim an expression from self-help books, food means love. Besides, what is travel without food? Who goes to New York without having a ‘real New York slice’? Who has really been to New England without eating a true clam bake? Is Britain without a bacon roll or a chippy actually Britain? No, not really. Societies define their food, just as food defines its society, and you have to embrace both to understand either.
One day, I will put my children to sleep with bedtime stories of the places I have been, and hopefully this will inspire them to go out and see the world for themselves. I will teach them about cultures through their stomachs: Moroccan dishes flavored with saffron, the polarizing durian fruit, spicy Indian vindaloos and they will fear no food. They will come to know food the way I do now, as a gift, as an art; a way of telling a story to taste buds.