HAVE A GLOBAL FOOD AD­VEN­TURE AT HOME

From a small kitchen in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa, one ev­ery- day mum and food lover, Sasha Martin, has proven that you don’t have to be lim­ited by your cirum­stances. In fact, your chal­lenges could be­come your big­gest tri­umphs....

Lift Magazine - - Contents -

HI SASHA, TELL US A LIT­TLE ABOUT YOUR­SELF...

My name is Sasha Martin and I eat the world for a liv­ing.

That may sound a lit­tle far-fetched, but it’s true. I spent nearly four years (from Fe­bru­ary 2010 un­til Novem­ber 2013) cook­ing a meal from ev­ery coun­try in the world, all from my small kitchen in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa. Each week I served up a new coun­try to my picky hus­band, Keith, and young daugh­ter, Ava and shared the ex­pe­ri­ence, as well as the recipes on my blog - Gobal Ta­ble Ad­ven­ture. When the project wrapped up, I couldn’t stop cook­ing. To date I’ve shared more than 650 au­then­tic recipe adap­ta­tions on Global Ta­ble Ad­ven­ture in an ef­fort to make our planet a lit­tle friend­lier (and yum­mier!). My mem­oir, Life From Scratch will be out in March 2015.

WHAT IN­SPIRED YOU TO START GLOBAL TA­BLE AD­VEN­TURE?

This idea, like so many, came from be­ing STUCK. On the sleep­less night I de­cided to un­der­take my quest, sev­eral con­cerns were rat­tling around in my brain:

• MY BABY. My daugh­ter Ava was about seven months old, just start­ing out on solid foods. I wanted her to eat well. I also wanted her to grow up lov­ing her world (and feel­ing loved by it!).

• MY HUS­BAND. Keith was an ex­tremely picky eater when I met him. (Eat an egg­plant? Forget it. He had no idea what it was and no in­ter­est in find­ing out.)

• MY KITCHEN. Al­though I went to the Culi­nary In­sti­tute of Amer­ica for a year, I wasn’t cook­ing. In fact, ever since Christ­mas, months ear­lier, I’d had 48 spice jars sit­ting empty in the kitchen, wait­ing for me to DO some­thing with them. I was in a ma­jor rut.

• MY TRAVEL. I really missed travel and the ad­ven­ture that comes with it (I had been to 12 coun­tries by the age of 19). There was no way we’d be able to whisk my daugh­ter away to ex­pe­ri­ence food from other coun­tries first-hand, the ex­pense was too great, plus I wanted her to re­mem­ber our trav­els. I did know though that what­ever her taste buds were ex­posed to as an in­fant and tod­dler would pro­foundly im­pact the rest of her life.

Cook­ing the world seemed like the per­fect so­lu­tion to all of our chal­lenges. Keith would be­come more open to new foods. My daugh­ter would grow up with an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for other cul­tures. And I would sat­isfy some of my wan­der­lust. Once my hus­band was on board (he loves a good chal­lenge), we started the process – one coun­try per week, 195 to­tal.

HOW HAS THE PROJECT CHANGED YOU AND YOUR FAM­ILY OVER THE YEARS?

My hus­band DID be­come less picky and my daugh­ter is in­cred­i­bly curious about other cul­tures. As for me, while I cooked the coun­tries, lessons from their cul­tures seeped into our

ev­ery­day lives and I felt a shift – not only in how I saw them, but how I saw my­self. Cook­ing the world changed ev­ery­thing… but the sur­prise was that the changes came from within.

WERE THERE DAYS WHEN YOU THOUGHT ‘THIS IS ALL TOO HARD?!’ IF SO, WHAT KEPT YOU GO­ING?

Definitely. The cook­ing-re­lated chal­lenges were easy to re­solve: find­ing in­gre­di­ents (I chose to cook global, shop lo­cal so that more peo­ple could repli­cate what I was do­ing) and find­ing recipes (I wore out my li­brary card, ex­panded my cook­book col­lec­tion, and got great at reach­ing out to au­thors of ex­pat blogs).

At the end of the day, the hard­est part of this quest was fac­ing my­self. All good ad­ven­tures be­come mir­rors, chal­leng­ing us to see our­selves for who we really are. Dur­ing the last year of the project, when I be­gan writ­ing my mem­oir for Na­tional Ge­o­graphic, my ed­i­tor pushed me to dig deeper. I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber her laugh­ing, say­ing some­thing like “but you aren’t just some bored house wife, you’re ob­ses­sively cook­ing ev­ery coun­try in the world. There’s some­thing else go­ing on here. Tell me what that’s all about!”.

In­tro­spec­tion (and lots of tears) brought me face to face with my rough and tum­ble child­hood – the string of foster homes, the painful sep­a­ra­tion from my mother, and the tragic death of a beloved fam­ily mem­ber. Food, specif­i­cally cook­ing with my mother, had been an im­por­tant an­chor early on but as an adult I felt dis­con­nected from that ex­pe­ri­ence. As I worked to build my own fam­ily, cook­ing the world had be­come much more than try­ing new food – it be­came my way of work­ing out what un­con­di­tional love and be­long­ing meant.

Re­flected in the de­sire for my daugh­ter to love her world, I also saw my own need to love my world and feel loved by it. Af­ter a child­hood in tur­moil I was hun­gry for peace. I soon learned that I could not con­trol my world or how other peo­ple be­haved. I couldn’t even force my beau­ti­ful, kind-hearted daugh­ter to love her world. Even with my en­cour­age­ment, the choice was ul­ti­mately hers. The only peace I could cre­ate, it turns out, is for my­self.

YOU GREW UP WITH A SIN­GLE MOTHER, WHAT HAS THAT TAUGHT YOU ABOUT BE­ING A MOTHER?

Mom is the most cre­ative woman I know. As I re­count in my mem­oir, Mom stitched odd jobs at the kitchen ta­ble to make ends meet while we kids played at her feet. She didn’t have a lot of money so in­stead of the Bar­bie play­house and pool, we used sty­ro­foam in­serts from ship­ping boxes for doll­houses. When my daugh­ter came along, Mom showed me that some­thing as sim­ple as toss­ing socks into a bas­ket can be end­lessly en­ter­tain­ing for a tod­dler. I try to model much of my par­ent­ing on my mother’s gift for cre­ativ­ity.

AND FI­NALLY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE? AND WHY?

I have many fa­vorite in­ter­na­tional recipes, but I al­ways come back to Mom’s home­made bread - it’s warm, homey, and sim­ple. Mom made this bread ev­ery day for a couple of years while liv­ing at a small con­vent, per­fect­ing vari­a­tions as she went. She used side-by-side bread ma­chines to proof dou­ble batches of dough, then baked the loaves in the oven. Not a crumb was left af­ter break­fast. I like to bake mine in a Pull­man pan, though a freeform loaf or small din­ner rolls work, too. The pow­dered milk gives the bread a softer crumb, but I rarely add it.

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