Sunday, March 11, 2018

New Paths and Flavors

"We’re stronger together." What do I mean?

I’ve been struggling to write a piece to explain exactly what I mean when I say this phrase. It took a line written by Bill Penzey, founder of Penzey’s Spices, to help direct me. In a recent post on Facebook, he called on all cooks and families to share their international recipes and family stories, adding:

“And not just traditional families please. Sometimes the family of our birth is not a healthy one.”

Ouch. And, bingo.

Sometimes, we feel the lure and desire to stay close to what we know. It can feel safer. It can feel nice when things are predictable.

But what if we are born into a family that’s less than healthy? Where the mother is grossly negligent, or the grandfather is a molester, or the uncle spouts off racial slurs at every family gathering, and no one says a word in protest. With nothing to compare it to, we are more likely to continue these unjust and destructive patterns. We see no other way, if that’s all we have to work with.

We’re stronger together. We can get help.

What if we’re from a family with awesome traits? Where everyone works hard, play hard, and different generations learn from each other as they go about daily living. If that family keeps it to themselves, their gifts and lessons are lost to multitudes of others. Multitudes who could, in turn, help advance that family even further.

We’re stronger together. We can help others.

According to, I’m 100% European. However, I feel connected to people, foods and ideas from around the world. I, like many others, have looked outward. Books (including cookbooks) and television shows on public TV were my first gateways to the larger world. Teachers and school were next, and now the world is now available to me both online or with actual travel.

As a child, I was told that I wouldn’t like lamb, because it “tastes gamey”. Today, my family enjoys a leg rubbed liberally with a mixture of olive oil, salt, cracked pepper, cracked rosemary, and fresh or granulated garlic, roasted to a delicious, crusty brown. Well, one of the boys does, anyway.

I didn’t know much about curry until my college days, when I began watching British comedies. Today, I make naan and serve it with rice and a variety of curry recipes, seasoned liberally with things like fenugreek, mustard seeds, coriander and ginger. I knew of none of these spices growing up. I never even knew there were different kinds of rice besides “white” and "brown". Sushi? Basmati? Jasmine? Who knew.

We’re stronger together. We can grow.

We can learn something new every day. Today, I listen to Korean pop music, my kids watch British and Australian youtubers on their computers, and my husband works for a company based in Japan. I hope my sons can take the best of many worlds. Enjoy many flavors. Help humanity move forward to a better and brighter world. As Walt Disney said,

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” 


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