We’re excited to let you know that it’s ‘Food and Travel‘ Week here at pocketvillage. We have invited our favourite travel/ food bloggers and other food travel experts to contribute articles all about food for the entire week. To kick off the week, I want to introduce you to Sasha Martin from Global Table Adventure who is visiting the world via stovetop travel. She is preparing one meal for every country in the world. As there are 195 countries in the world she is preparing 195 meals and to make things fun, is doing all this in 195 weeks. An inspiring challenge, which she talks more about in the following interview.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and the idea behind Global Table Adventure. How did you come up with the name?
At the time I started Global Table Adventure, several things came together at once – I needed a creative outlet, my daughter was just starting out on solids, and I was thinking about all the negative things happening around the world. At the most basic – I wanted better for myself, my family, and the world.
- For myself: I wanted a creative outlet that would help me out of my cooking rut. After moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma – after a lifetime of travel – I missed the food I grew up with – trying new dishes, new flavors. I am more landlocked in the Midwest than I’ve ever been before. Global Table Adventure has been a great way to continue learning and growing, while also being fortunate enough to stay home with my daughter.
- For my family: I wanted to find a way to get my impossibly picky husband to eat better, especially since we had a daughter about to start solids. Children mimic parents and I find that dinner can be a big struggle if one parent refuses to try certain foods. I also wanted my daughter to learn to appreciate other cultures, other ways. By growing up with one meal from every country in the world, her mind will naturally be curious and open.
- For the world: The news would have you believe that there is nothing but war, poverty, and tragedy in the world. With so much focus on the negative, people tend to feel divided by their differences, instead of united by their similarities. I believe that Global Table Adventure’s uplifting focus on the food and culture of countries around the world will help people appreciate and come together over our common humanity. This is why I am dedicated to only sharing positive stories; there’s enough people focusing on the negative.
* * The name Global Table Adventure, comes from the idea of sitting together at one giant, albeit imaginary, “global” table – for a meal where we all come together in peace and celebrating our common humanity.
2. What have been the biggest challenges so far in regards to completing your mission?
The first thing that comes to mind is the amount of time the Adventure consumes – between grocery shopping (especially when specialty ingredients are involved), cooking, photography, and videography, it is practically a full-time job. Of course, a full-time job completed in the cracks of time before Ava wakes up, after she goes to bed, and during her nap. That being said, this is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve learned to pace myself. I used to do all the cooking during Ava’s nap, which became a comedy routine (although certainly not funny at the time). I never knew if she was going to take a 1.5 or 3 hour nap, which is a big difference when cooking and photographing all of the food.
3. How do you prepare yourself for the meal per country? For example, what resources do you use to find out a countries specialty? Where do you get the recipes from and how do you source the ingredients? Do you import them?
I spend a lot of time curled up with books and emailing back and forth with people who have experience in the region (such as Karen Coates of Rambling Spoon and Laura Kelley of Silk Road Gourmet. There’s detailed information on the process here: http://globaltableadventure.com/f-a-q/
My philosophy is ‘Eat Global, Shop Local‘. I purchase my ingredients in my town’s international grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and at Whole Foods (because they support local farmers whenever possible). I have not purchased any ingredients online and do not plan to. If I cannot find the ingredients locally, I won’t make the dish. Global Table Adventure is meant to be accessible to the average family in a city the size of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Many dishes are accessible to smaller towns as well.
While we don’t eat too many “strange” foods, I’ve been fortunate the few times we have. For example, I’ve been able to find Kangaroo for our Australian meal at a local butcher, and fermented locust beans at our African grocer. Once in a blue moon I’ve been gifted things from friends, like raw coffee from a friend who’d been there recently to adopt a child. I used it in an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.
4. Can you name your favorite three countries so far in terms of their cuisine and explain why?
While I don’t have specific countries that are favorites (that’s like picking a favorite child, I’d imagine), I have enjoyed many dishes along the way. In many cases my favorite recipes have been ones that are big on flavor, but quick on preparation. On Global Table Adventure we don’t eat tarantulas and cow testicles (!!) -this is a web site for everyday cooking, meals that – for the most part -you can make with a toddler hanging off your shirt. A few examples of my favorites are Grilled Greek-Style Lamb Chops, Spicy Chicken and Peanut Soup (from West Africa), Maple Glazed Rutabaga (Finland), Ethiopian Lamb Stew (Awaze Tibs).
All these dishes are so simple to throw together and big on flavor.
The biggest crowd pleasers have been my 20+ layered German Tree Cake and the Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream…and I’d have to agree with them – they taste great!
5. Could you share one recipe with our readers for a meal that is easy to make while traveling and staying in campgrounds, hotels or hostels?
eg. picnic recipe ideas.
I actually wrote some ideas for a fun globally inspired picnic recently. Just click here for some ideas for an International Picnic.
Sasha is hosting a Global Gingerbread Contest on her blog. Just click the link to check it out. There are a lot of great prizes you can win and it’s a feel good way to build awareness about other cultures. Plus, who doesn’t love gingerbread houses!?