Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gone Gypsyn'

When she calls my phone, an image of her standing in front of a busy Florentine street appears. With hands over heart, eyes closed, and a blissful expression upon her face.
While waiting for a cab outside of Piazza del Santa Crocce, on our way up to hear the Gregorian chants in Santa Michelangelo, I asked her a question- "Kim, how does Florence make you feel?" When she turned around to answer me, I captured her on my camera. That was 4 years ago, and I still have that photo on my phone.

I left Santa Barbara just days ago. I procrastinated till the final moments of my last morning to pack up my bag. The grey duffle bag (which doubles as my home most of the time) looks more like a black hole of doom to me now. In fact, at that moment of packing, I loathed that bag and all of it's tiny little zipper pockets and cobblestone proof wheels! It was all just too soon to leave.

Kim, my mentor and friend for the past 7 years, threw me... yet another..., going away party just hours before my flight. We drank California chardonnay under my final California pink sunset. Fresh bread with whipped peppers, feta and allepo chilies. Her handmade goat cheese alongside fresh strawberries. Lamb meatballs roasted in the wood fire oven, on warm corn salsa with aioli. She knows me well. Poetry was shared till the wine bottles had finished, and 6 pm came too quickly.

Arriving in Boston and settling into the work groove yet again. (note: provisioning a kitchen in your own country [ie: Trader Joes and Whole Foods!] is far more inspiring than the super markets of Nuuk, Greenland.)  My first night spent with friends, dinner at The Butcher Shop, an apple cider rum martini (or two) at The Beehive, and hours spent shopping in South End Fromaggio (which sells Stumptown coffee!). The next day I received a poem from Kim-

Light Will someday split you wide open Even if your life is now a cage,
For a divine seed , the crown of destiny, Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain You hold the title to.
Love will surely bust you wide open Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy
Even if your mind is now A spoiled mule.
A life-giving radiance will come, The Friend’s gratuity will come--
O look again within yourself, For I know you were once the elegant host To all the marvels in creation.
From a sacred crevice in your body A bow rises each night And shoots your soul into God.
Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One From the lunar vantage point of love.He is conducting the affairs Of the whole universe
While throwing wild parties In a tree house-- on a limb In your heart.

Thank you Kim, for being my teacher of food and of love for the moment. Oh, and for throwing endless amounts of wild parties... from treehouse, to villa, to heart. I love you, and I will see you soon in Morocco! -Ash

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."  -Steve Jobs, 2005

Steve Jobs, a visionary of our lifetime, who's life was cut short at the age of 56 by cancer.
But his approach to life has been an inspiration. Thank you, Steve Jobs for taking us outside of the box, then shrinking the box down and putting a touch screen on it.

"If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do?"

Living each day as if it was your last- This is why I embrace my life as a gypsy chef.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Choice & Eggs

My ticket is purchased, and I am already touching the surface of goodbyes with my friends and family. My father finds new ways to ask me eachday how sure I am of needing to leave so soon. My mother wont even talk about the actual date that I depart, and friends have tried to cease every spare moment to cook or hike just one last time.
Santa Barbara has a way of putting on a damn good show that keeps you wanting more and more, but I know that it is time to go.

I found this write up in my journal from when I was living in Florence this summer. Even with the perfect vegetables, pink sunsets, and favorite faces that California has on display to keep me wanting more, I know very well that it is time for me to leave.

And this explains why....
x - Ash

-Written on July 12, 2011 in Florence Italy-

What is it about traveling?

This question posed in an email to me this morning from an old friend in Seattle. Quitting his desirable job to answer an urge, a calling, a gut feeling to travel again. One which comes from a place deep inside, that after awhile we can't shut off, as it keeps on yelling to be acknowledged. Is it the people, the places, the food? (Yes, my appetite is most definitely a key deciding factor in why I do almost anything.) But it's more than that, and it got me thinking today about, what is it about traveling?

I sat at my table, high in the sky of my Florentine apartment and pondered this question. My perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs, toast and coffee there to segway me into the day. This. This is why I travel, I thought for a moment. Eggs is why I travel? No. But this moment is why I travel. I have no concept of what time it is right now. I have nowhere to be. And I want eggs for breakfast.

Challenge, change, desire, freedom- all come to mind when I think about my choice in lifestyle. But I know that it is bigger than that. While on skype the other day, my cousin from New York asked me what I was speaking, "Is that Australian?... or is that British?", he said. (Dear God, neither, I hope) ... but yes, my speech patterns, cadence, and even the choice of words have changed a bit. And all because, well, because they can. When I am out here, alone in the world, I can be whomever I want to be. I don't have to sound American if I don't want to, and I think subconsciously I have changed my speech patterns to fall somewhere in the middle of it all. Leaving people to question is she ...South African? Spanish? Welsh? Well, maybe.

It's the undefined existence, and the freedom to be, go, say and eat whatever you want, whenever you want. All in a way that is not selfish really. In fact, it is the sense of knowing what and when to do things in life that will make you a better friend, acquaintance, lover, sister, daughter, etc. Knowing how much of your authentic self you can deliver is an answer found within the self.

I travel because I know that I am supposed to. That I will have a veil lifted, a clarity and a sensitivity on the world that I will acquire no other way. Even at the expense of being a neutral being, unidentifiable by geography or accent. Regardless of how people will view my lifestyle or selfish choices to live my way, when I look in the mirror, I know who I'm looking at. And when I look at perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs from the farmer at Saint Ambrogia market, which lie upon the crimson blue plate found in a Moroccan souk, and smell fresh brewed coffee laced with burning Indian incense from the living room..... This is exactly "What It Is About Travel."