Nov 25, 2008
Los Angeles, Ca
The recent issue of The New Yorker has an article about Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid. They are cookbook authors but a more accurate description would be culinary anthropologists or culinary geographers. They have published 6 cookbooks since 1995 and I currently own “Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet” while the rest are logged into my 28 page wish list on Amazon.
The thing that really caught my attention in the profile piece about Alford and Duguid is not just the partnership that they have and how they essentially raised two child on the road but their attitude towards traveling…”they travel light, on anything headed in the right direction – a riverboat, a mountain bus…when nothing shows up, they hitchhike or rent a bike or walk….[Duguid] call this ‘staying vulnerable’ to the people, the place, and the possibility of a new taste where ever they get dropped off…they talk about arriving in a place and having no idea of what they’ll find there. The awe that comes with that – it’s always present.”
This idea of staying vulnerable to possibilities is I think one of my favorite things about traveling and why I think I am always itching to get back on the road. Yet something happens once the plane hits the tarmac at LAX – somehow the mind shifts and I becomes less vulnerable. Why do we feel less safe at “home” than we do in a strange land? Is it because when we are here, we feel that we are measured by our accomplishments and if we don’t have enough then we must fake it? Especially in a place like Los Angeles?
How do we stay vulnerable to possibilities and yet still protect ourselves?
Where to next is a frequent question that I get at my Q&A sections and I have been thinking of South / Central America and Africa. Yet I have had Central Asia and Mongolia stuck in my teeth for over a year now – and Burma since this summer. The article ends with Alford and Durguid writing a cookbook that is focused on Burma. Burma again – is the Universe trying to tell me something? Meanwhile, I am tentatively slated to go down to Mexico / Cuba next spring and Chile next winter. But all of this could change depending on my grant status.
As I try to define and refine the “partnership” I wish to have, I can’t help but look at the Alford/Durguid model to be a measuring stick of sorts. The profile describes them to be opposites yet symbiotic. They were able to agree on all the big important life questions within days after they meet in the low oxygen city of Lhasa at 3600km.
Irrespective of what the final definition is, what I do know is that I would like a life that is open to the world, where I am vulnerable to possibilities, adventures, regardless whether I am in LA, New York or a nameless town in middle of no where.