Food Memoirs Inspire Travel

My blog posts have slowed in the last month or so because much of my spare time is dedicated to eating an elimination diet and acupuncture appointments. I soak my feet in an herbal tea and I drink gallons of alkaline water. I haven’t felt well for about 2 years but when I broke out in hives in mid-February and they were still with me 6 weeks later, I knew I had to take the time to address my health.

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Pour kettle full of hot water on one foot bath tea bag and let steep for 6 minutes. Then add another kettle full of hot water and 3 pitchers of roughly equivalent size to soak for feet for 30 minutes. Keep water as hot as you can stand. This is intended to help draw toxics out of your body. 

I still don’t know what is  at the root of my health issues. I am in the club of women and men who live with chronic pain that western medicine isn’t good at diagnosing let alone providing relief. If I had to guess I’d say that our western lifestyle is toxic. I know I’d feel better if I could travel. But I had to cancel my Michigan adventure due to my most extreme sciatica episode to date.

My pets are glad to have me home. Yet I need to do something to satisfy my wanderlust.

I have been listening to a lot of podcasts as I cook and soak. Two of my favorites are about reading: What Should I Read Next? and Reading Women. They are both delightful and now the top of my dresser is heaving with books to read. When Reading Women podcast hosts interviewed author Chibundu Onuzo, she recommended several books I wrote down for future reading, including Longthroat Memoirs by Yemisi Aribisala. I already had on my list My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss as a recommendation from WSIRN? I took the plunge and purchased them both.

I read My Berlin Kitchen first because I heard it favorably compared to Ruth Reichl’s memoirs and because I’m curious about Germany — Berlin has been rising on my places to go list. Never fear, if you think it is a book full of German recipes, it is much more varied. The author is American/Italian with deep ties to Berlin. The book is really the story of growing up on two continents and with people she loves in 3 or more countries before and after the Wall fell. She tells her story in short chapters ending with a recipe. I marked 9 different recipes I’d like to try. I already tried her Uncle’s ragu sauce and it was a B+ (of course I did not cook it for 3-5 hours as suggested). This book made me want to go to Berlin, and return to Italy, and for others it might make you want to go to Paris. Not me. She also sends a lot of love to New York City and even Los Angeles. It is a fun read and I managed it in a weekend.

Longthroat Memoirs is much less accessible to me. I have been to South Africa and Capetown is near the top of my wish list because of the penguins, but Nigeria is not on my list yet. This is an ambitious book as it is introducing a complex culture (Nigeria is very large and has many ethnic cultures within), and a cooking style with whom few people have any familiarity. I also found her writing more convoluted to follow with many references I don’t get. To be fair, so does Weiss, but I know Laura Ingalls Wilder and why someone would pine to go to Prince Edward Island.

Also, I cannot envision making groundnut soup, also known as Nigerian River Province Soup or Bayelsa. Aribisala seems determined more to use food as an entry point to so many other subjects that it is probably miscast as a food memoir. And where would I get the ingredients! “There is the green leaf vegetable that cannot, and most definitely should not, be frozen spinach. There is afang leaf unwound from its symbiotic partner in the bush. There is afang leaf grown in town and snubbed by the bush afang. There is the pumpkin leaf that, in one unique language ‘ibok iyep’ (red blood corpuscle) for its nutritional powerhouse status.” (p 23)

So while the book doesn’t satisfy as a food memoir, it is essential reading if you want to spend more time in the diverse countries of Africa. I will give it to Grace Julie who has already traveled extensively in Western Africa.

Food is such an essential part of the travel experience. I will explore this in more detail in future blog posts.

World Penguin Day Today

Meet Monty and Poppy at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. These baby African penguins are not yet on exhibit. You can see the other penguins on the regular penguin cam.

The New England Aquarium in Boston, MA also has some little blue penguin chicks–from New Zealand! You can read more about it here.

Take a moment today to appreciate penguins as most species are threatened by food or habitat loss. Thanks climate change. And ride your bike or walk instead of driving your gas guzzler to give the planet a break.

Happy Local Yarn Shop Day!

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My closest store: Rumpelstiltskin on R Street in Sacramento

I am very fortunate as there are several stores that specialize in knit/crochet supplies. Babetta’s is my other go-to if I am in the burbs. Rumpelstiltskin is my closest shop and the one I bonded with when I began knitting 30 years ago. It recently changed ownership and the new management is bringing a fresh enthusiasm to knit, crochet and weaving.

Today is “support your local yarn store day” and Rumpelstiltskin was offering lots of exciting extras. I bought the store t-shirt for just $5 with my purchase. I bought the yarn to make the spring challenge and got the drea renee knits “The Shift” pattern for free! I also discovered a new zine called Making.

I love supporting a local business and getting new inspiration and projects. It is a complete bonus when the store is close enough to bicycle to on a beautiful spring day! My basket was full of cotton yarn on the way home. Love.

Confessions of a Cycling Fan

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This email got me thinking about my relationship to cycling as a fan and rider.

I have followed professional cycling for decades or since Greg LeMond won his first Tour de France. I have spent much of my precious time and resources as an avid fan in Italy, France, England California and Australia. When the UCI ejected Peter Sagan from the Tour de France last July, my fan heart was broken.

I never thought Lance Armstrong was clean because I saw an interview with Greg LeMond talking about getting dropped by riders who the year before were middling racers. Then he knew the drugs were winning. Lance was up among the elite riders who were winning and they were getting caught doping. My assumption was that he was better at not getting caught. So I left some room for being wrong and cheered Columbia High Road and other riders on. Besides he was a bully, that was clear without a urine sample.

Somehow I survived those wretched years when the press broke a new drug scandal every year. I remember once I was traveling in Africa and spent some time with a German couple. He was a sports writer and the German press had just made a big deal about not televising or covering the Tour de France because of the drugs. I couldn’t understand how you could just stop caring. I was still in the throes of attraction to cycling.

Now I understand. Sometimes the corruption of the officials and the lack of fair play doesn’t just knock the wind out of you, it hits you with such a punch you just don’t give a flying fig anymore. I have huge respect for Peter Sagan. His cycling skills are unparalleled today. And his attitude is super fun and eccentric. He brings excitement to the sport. Oh, and he’s won the world championship 3 years in a row. He was on track to win the green jersey again, when his crash with Mark Cavendish drew the ire of race officials. They didn’t just relegate him for that stage (like they did Mark Cavendish when he had a similar crash back in the day), but ejected him from the race. Later the UCI dropped the disqualification, as if that does anything to erase the stupidity of the first decision.

The rest of the season I followed the Australian team and their excellent videos on social media. Orica Bike Exchange’s Backstage Pass was awesome. I stopped using my NBC Gold Pass to watch races. Still I wondered if I’d go back to feeling good as a fan after a break.

Then I received this email about Peter Sagan’s Fondos in California. Nope. I have a precedence. After many years as a USC football fan, I read about the concussions, then I took my family to a home game and the pre-game videos of greatest “hits” made me sick. Haven’t watched a game since. The Olympics, well who hasn’t lost faith in the Olympics? The latest in scandals is the Russians’ systematic doping. But that has been going my whole life. See the documentary Icarus on Netflix for a refresher.

I am sad to announce my heart break was finally irrevocable. I am a former cycling fan.

Celebrating Pi Day at Pie Ranch

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Slim pickings at 2 p.m. on Pi(e) Day

It was a lovely coincidence that UK Sarah would be breaking her journey from NZ to UK in California starting on Pi(e) Day 3.14.  We planned to go to Monterey for a few days, so it was easy to plan our journey to go from SFO to Half Moon Bay and then down Highway 1 to Monterey Bay.

In Pescadero, just down the road from Ano Nuevo State Park, is the Pie Ranch where you can buy their milled flour, whole wheat sourdough bread and PIE!

They bake interesting pies and hand-held galettes including walnut pie, buttermilk lemon pie, and our choice: sweet potato galette. It was savory and wonderful. The crust was whole wheat and exceptionally good. I noticed on the way out that they have frozen pies available including chocolate chess pie. I’ve never tried that and now I’m going to be dreaming about it!

Pie Ranch also has educational programs and a tempting produce section. I also bought a t-shirt that says “eat pie.” How could I pass that up?

Happy Pi(e) Day!

Pizza and Books on the Lower East Side

The only other time Mom and I have ventured to the Lower East Side was to go to the Tenement Museum (totally worthwhile). We had just arrived for our weekend and she expressed a desire for New York style pizza so I got on Yelp to look at reviews. One of the best loved was a place in the East Village so I called and at 7 p.m. we didn’t need a reservation.

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Pinch me. Am I in Italy or New York City?

Tramonti at 130 Saint Marks PlNew York City, NY 10009-5843 is charming and with all the people speaking Italian (diners, wait staff) we weren’t sure if we were in Italy or Manhattan. We ordered some wine from the region where the chef is from and an amazing Tramonti bruschetta. We could have satisfied ourselves with each our own order of bruschetta. But we came for pizza.

The pizza was not New York style and I was glad because it was delicious and not greasy.

We ended the meal with a bit of gelato and it was a little disappointing. We could have gone down the street to the shop that sells just marshmallows and hot chocolate. Before ordering a Lyft back to our hotel, we fossicked around the street a bit and wandered into a used bookstore that was wonderfully odd.  Ultimately, the day of travel caught up with us and we retired to our comfortable room at The Benjamin hotel in midtown. A great start for an exciting planned weekend.

Not Every Adventure Needs to Be Big

 

b61eeea5-c8d5-4e6c-80c7-689460b67ea6At least once a week I go on an adventure with my grandson Calvin who is 16 months old. He reminds me of the joy and wonder of noticing the things we adults often overlook. Like the inlaid wood and carving at the Crocker Museum. Or the joy of going to the nursery in springtime.

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Looking for Gramma J

Today we went to the Plant Foundry in Oak Park, Sacramento, California.

72d1407c-f0af-4696-9082-14ab161b3a94The challenge is getting plants whilst enjoying it from a wee man’s perspective. So glad my daughter was along to help out this time.

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In a recently published book, 1001 Things to Do with Kids in Sacramento by Sabrina Nishijima, there are many ideas for kids of all ages. I have been looking for more ideas so I plonked down my debit card to buy this from Time Tested Books on 21st Street near K. Just remember, sometimes you can keep it simple and have a great adventure, like the time we never made it into the Railroad Museum because the wooden sidewalks and rocky paths were so fascinating.

Personal note: for a variety of reasons I’ve fallen behind on posting my travels. I am going to catch up but my sharing may be out of order to the timeline I traveled, so hang on!