Coming and Going

Our last journal entry was about a hot afternoon in New Bagan, Myanmar. Since that day we have crossed borders and oceans and visited five different countries. Each one opened up to us. Each offered different experiences.

In Bangkok we lived in a modern high-rise apartment, from which we could survey the sprawling urban jungle. One night, during a storm, lightning sprouted from a cloud just feet away from our window. On to Malaysia where we stayed on a dock, surrounded by a hundred year old Chinese community, with sea snakes and crabs slithering and skittering just below our bedroom floor. Then in Turkey, our wanderings led us to a tiny village in the mountains. We ate fresh chickpeas roasted on coals, surrounded by the sounds and smells of goats and cows. In France we harvested the esteemed Pinot Noir grapes of Burgundy and drank vintages older than we are. Friuli, a small region tucked into the northeastern extremity of Italy, taught us about the importance of peasant food, humble wine and cultural exchange.

When we return to The States our friends and family will ask, "What did you learn?" That's the question I'm wrestling with right now. And honestly, it's too big for a casual conversation or even for this one piece of writing. This experience has been a story fit for a book, which we will eventually write. But, there is one thing without which we would have learned much less.

Hospitality from strangers and friends alike welcomed us to new experiences. It was sometimes an invitation into a kitchen to learn recipes first hand, as at Nahm in Bangkok. In Friuli, at La Subida it was a beckoning to sit down and taste the local food and wine. Süleyman, without speaking a word of English, invited us to his home village in Turkey. There, under the starlight he used only the most primal seasonings, open fire and salt to prepare an amazing dinner for us. We owe so many adventures and so much knowledge to those that welcomed us into their lives.

We are back in Istanbul appreciating a new season of Turkish cooking and writing as much as possible (look for some new pieces!). In a few weeks, we will visit Barcelona. Eventually, we will return to The States to continue our work in a new way. We will become the sharers, the givers of hospitality. And as we walk our path, we acknowledge the beauty we have had the privilege to experience. Thank you. Thank you to the billions of people who are kind, who make this world a more hospitable place. You are the ones that make our steps worth taking.