The Ultimate Milestone Experience
I deeply admire the great strides that have been achieved in the “Slow Food” Movement, thanks to its creator and Italian Grandfather, Carlo Petrini, along with the USA Headmaster, Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame, and the movement’s British child prodigy, the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver. I applaud their tenacity in bringing to the forefront the awareness of “we are what we eat”, while constantly striving to preserve traditional and regional cuisine which encourages positive growth for all. Adults, children and educational institutions worldwide have been awakened by this “slow-mode” philosophy of the movement’s purpose. The norm has become seeking out and supporting local farmers and growers who are united, committed and passionate in the preserved art of growing simply good and tenderly-cared-for pure foods without chemicals, pesticides and forced practices. USA Today even proclaimed that, “Slow Food aims to be everything fast food is not.” Therefore, with similar passion and great enthusiasm, I follow in the movement’s footsteps with a slightly different beat of our own drum. If the pleasures of the table are found through a commitment to protect community, culture and the environment that encourages a better world and supports one’s well-being, than shouldn’t the purpose of traveling be filled with the same passionate components? In turn, “we become who we are because of where we’ve gone and what we’ve experienced”.
I believe that food and travel are the universal language of our souls, and that somewhere deep within the human spirit there’s a longing to stop all the clocks on the blandly packaged, mass-produced vacation versions of vacations out there, and instead seek the un-artificial, un-manufactured, not mass produced, more organically designed real journeys that give justice to our globe as Mother Nature intended us to experience. I’m convinced that “Slow” is “New” again and quickly becoming the expected norm! Within this homogenized, fast-cultured chaotic planet we are geared to exist in, there resides a perpetual calm and more desirable, perhaps even more romantic alternative to traveling the path that leads to all things deliciously slow and more coveted. Reminiscent of olden-days, wholesome goodness of any kind (whether in our kitchens or within our personal escapes) requires and beckons us to deliberately change our course, to learn the practice of taking it slow, and even to come to a screeching halt occasionally in order to experience its simple purity. Looking back now at my younger days spent riding at high-velocity speed upon blazing saddles along the paths into and out of all my traveled destinations, I see why the picture is so blurry. In my younger days spent exploring, I was in a hurry to devour everything on my bucket-list with a starved hunger to conquer it all like Genghis Khan. As such, I often lost sight of the original recipe and maybe misplaced all the more nourishing ingredients somewhere along all the burning trails I left behind. Now that I find myself in my youthful 50’s, I have finally reached my “rubicon” – a point of no return. I have come to appreciate the inner enlightenment that I have finally found within myself, which magically emerged out of my making a personal commitment to embark on more purposeful explorations on our precious planet. Because I have been fortunate enough to have seen 42 of the world’s most amazing countries through rose colored glasses, I have acquired an unrelenting human need to perfect the art of the journey. Thus, I have grown more aware of the rewards by slowing down and savoring every bite in all that I see and do, having learned that one lives longer and happier through living more “in the moment” because of it.
As Julia Child once said, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, for the art of cooking exists in preparing good food from the simplest and freshest ingredients.” Therefore, like learning the refined art of Julia’s passion through knowledge of basic skills, shouldn’t we also desire mastering the uncomplicated recipe for traveling in a more unmanufactured way? The secret to a healthy, delicious and successful recipe is quite similar to that which is required for a phenomenal journey: in order to achieve it, one must ask, “what elements are necessary for the nourishment of my mind, body and spirit and where should I source these from”? Whether it’s to find our karma in Katmandu or our serenity in Santorini, submitting to the soulful purpose of slowly seeking out the naturally best ingredients in making a perfect vacation recipe, we must choose the older paths and wiser ways in achieving those ultimate experiences. It’s amazing what becomes revealed to one’s self when a deliberate slow-as-a-snail pace approach to traveling is embraced. This letting go (and often outside of your comfort zone) is the art of travel in its purest form! Immerse yourself into the wiser world of old traditions in a new refreshing way, walk in the footsteps of ancient times yet sleep in modern abodes, and allow the cultures and flavors of all the world you find yourself in, merge together into one big beautiful experience. Pause, taste, touch, smell, see and absorb the yummy wonder of it all. Journey the Egyptian desert on camelback with nomadic Bedouins; adventure like Lawrence of Arabia on horseback to Petra; wander through the exotic souks of Marrakech and play the piano in Casablanca; ride the Indian railways in a silk sari as you unwind into the majestic hill towns of Darjeeling and Varanasi; channel Hemingway and write your own novel on a tented African safari in search of the Big Five; or summon your inner Indiana Jones courage and embark upon an archaeological quest to discover mysterious treasures somewhere. Perhaps, ride a bicycle through the heavenly lavender fields of Provence; get to know your nose through a hypnotic “scentual” stroll amongst exotic flowers and design your own perfume in Grasse; meander through the open-air Byzantium markets of Istanbul to taste local delicacies from street vendors and food stalls on a culinary exploration of all the senses; or embark upon your own odyssey like Homer in the Greek Isles as you set sail to ancient ports. Whether you choose to sightsee in Shanghai with your sweetie or go it solo for solitude in Lake Como, cherish and indulge in the lost art of a slower mode of movement.
So take that dare to invest in your personal growth through traveling the globe, no matter what your age, your economic ability, or your geographical challenges might be – venture outside your comfort zone, seek the authentic experiences and the genuine gems, explore where nomads go and immerse yourself within the world’s greatest wonders. Think Anthony Bourdain, in his award-winning “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown” documentary foodie-travel series, sometimes the unrefined, get down with the locals and take the slow-road in getting there in the process, makes for a more memorable experience and it’s priceless (considering what it can do to your overall well-being). In the forthcoming issues of my personal journaling, it is my heartfelt intent to inspire, inform, invigorate and invite you to see a world which operates in a lost time. And in the process, I hope you will find a deeply enriched and super enhanced version of yourself – eager to get back out there and see, taste, do something out of the ordinary yet again! Simply sojourn and experience the luxury of traveling somewhere slowly. Allow to be comforted by not only your food, but by the pace you keep. Fine-tune your gears, set your speed and choose a leisurely course to wherever your happy place on earth might be. To acquire the unimaginable ultimate travel experience which will greatly reward your inner life and well-being, embrace a permanent “slow travel” conviction that commits to filling your shopping carts with finer and more priceless ingredients. Get your passports validated with enormous stamps of self-approval – be moved to travel slow!