I started traveling, like, grown-up traveling, really about 10 years ago. I had done a few trips in high school, but the first time I really did anything on my own, not under the watchful eye of a chaperone, was in law school. I’d say then, I became a traveler. My group and I hit all the major hot spots, maps and guide books in hand, checking sight after sight off our must-see lists as we hopped through Europe with backpacks, a lot of excitement and a can-do attitude.
The Travelers, “Lost” in Paris
However, I think I really became an explorer when I spent the semester in London. Most people I’d wager would say that study abroad changed them, and I’m here to tell you the same. I was in a “strange” land alone, truly alone, and I had 5 months to explore. While I did see the major sites, I also mostly wandered (and not because I got lost- horrible sense of direction, I have). I learned to appreciate that cities have neighborhoods, each with distinct personalities, routines and quirks that allow them to stand on their own feet without being swallowed up by the larger city. Every weekend I’d set off and walk for hours to discover the nooks and crannies that the city offered.
It was also the first time I’d really grown to appreciate good food. Not fancy food, but good, honest-to-goodness fresh ingredients. I trekked to the market once a week, an hour on foot each way, to get my fruits and vegetables, and learned to cook with what was fresh that week. After some time I developed a routine, and soon depended on the same little old man and his wife for my weekly supply (the little old man that sadly, was not selling with his wife when I went back two years ago). It was also the first time that I tuned into the wonder of artisan goods…individuals like you and me, selling their jams, chocolates, brownies and mustards with a sample and a smile. I loved seeing them week after week and soon became to depend on these small businesses as much as the Sainsbury, Waitrose or Tesco. It saddened me when I moved back home and could no longer get my favorite vanilla rhubarb jam from the sweet ladies at England’s Preserves, and have since resorted to carrying jars home every trip there, leading to a very heavy suitcase.
Since that semester, even here at home in the US, farmer’s markets are more on my must-see lists when I visit a new city than a museum-The Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, Reading Terminal in Philly, the ridiculously expansive Decatur Market outside Atlanta, the tiny seaside outpost in Olympia, Washington. I come home from my adventures with the undiscovered treasures bought at the market and again am sad knowing these treats aren’t available at home.
I was approached a bit ago to be an ambassador for Undiscovered Kitchen, an online artisan farmer’s market of sorts where the small businesses that you often see frequenting farmers markets can sell to customers around the country. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not one to push products or agendas. If I like something I’ll tell you about it and if I don’t, I have no problem telling you that either. I’m unabashedly blunt like that. I thought long and hard about taking on this role because I didn’t want to be put in a position to say something or tout something of which I am really not a fan. And I won’t. However, I love the idea behind Undiscovered Kitchen because it gives those small businesses the opportunity and venue spread their wings and let customers thousands of miles away experience the fruits of their hard work. I love the little guy and anything that helps him get a little bigger is something I support. It also jives with the idea behind what I do on these pages- to discover the undiscovered– and to taste flavors and foods that I’d never experienced before. It’s also a chance for you to maybe find what you can’t find in your own hometown-gluten/dairy-free, vegan, organic, raw foods- to make life a little easier.
So, in my role as an ambassador, I’ll be sharing links and pins on my various social media channels as I comb through the online marketplace to see what strikes my fancy. I’m telling you now that I won’t have tried them all, but they’ll be things that make me go hmmmm and that I think that you might like. Sort of like a link love, if you will. If you’re into that, take a look. If not, no offense taken. In the spirit of full disclosure, I do get a kickback if you purchase off a link you’ve clicked, but that’s not my main goal here.
So here’s to embracing the undiscovered!
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