The first real memory I have of my kitchen pantry was when I was eight years old and my baby brother was born. It was then that my parents changed our pantry to make space for this bouncing baby boy. Fast-forward a whole bunch of decades and a handful of kitchens later, and I can tell you that the staples in my own kitchen are quite different than those of my youth.
It wasn’t until I left the nest, went to sleep-away camp, university, and later spread my travel wings to meet people and foods across the globe that I started to realize there was far more out there that could make an appearance in my kitchen.
For travelers and visitors, many of our adventure moments intertwine with food. Why not bring some of those flavors home?
My first cabinet addition happened when I met a friend of a friend’s family who lived in Toronto, Canada. They offered me a taste of their favorite barbecue sauce. After finding a way to ship it to my home, I stocked many a bottle of that yummy goodness in my cupboards for years. In Israel I met a sugary chocolate spread that was readily available everywhere and it lived on my shelves for ages. I found a spice mixture, in Australia, that made everything taste better. Check! It’s in my larder today.
Now, after marrying an Australian, traveling around the world, and moving cities within my own country, my pantry and refrigerator could host a UN dinner and include many appropriate necessities. I might not be able to be in South Africa’s Kruger National Park every weekend, but if I add a bit of Braai salt or Peri Peri rub, I might trick my taste buds into thinking they’ve arrived while simultaneously leaving my passport untouched. Bringing travel into our daily life keeps the aromas, tastes, and memories alive for years to come.
There have been times I built a full meal inspired by a travel journey. Often complete with reminiscing conversation, geography lessons, and sometimes even the dream to return, we fill our bellies with delicious treats as well as our souls with the quest for journey and growth of adventure.
Costa Rica motivated me to add of Lizano® sauce and try our take on gallo pinto. Reliving our visits to Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Night Market saw us sourcing Columbian arepas to recreate a moment in time.
After exploring Istanbul, we now seek neighborhood markets filled with the scents of flatbreads, falafel, and fabulous treats. Between the Turkish market, Asian market, and Mexican grocery store nearby, we are transported to those places again, plus we often bend the ear of a local who may make suggestions for other ideas to add more to our own cupboards. Culinary conversation allows us to travel without leaving the comfort of our kitchen.
Our home blends cultures. You’ll find matzoh ball mix right next to the jar of Vegemite—both designed to cure whatever ails you. Come over for dessert and you’re bound to have Tim Tams (Australia’s best biscuit) or wind up adding Cadbury chocolate into your s’more. Sunday afternoon might find us eating our homage to Britain’s ploughman’s platter complete with a jar of our very own Branston Pickle that we both came to love when traveling England. We add South Africa’s Mrs. Ball’s Chutney to dishes and dip an Ouma rusk into tea for a late-night snack. Chanukah latkes are accompanied by the traditional apple sauce, but we also add a nod to Southern California’s love of avocado with a bit of guacamole alongside traditional sour cream that gets dabbed with sweet chili sauce that reminds us of life in Melbourne and travels through Asia.
In 2017, the world is smaller than it used to be. Businesses deliver groceries to your door with the click of a button. You can find items from places around the world in your local shops, get them shipped to you from their place of origin or search for their nearest location and head out to grab a piece of your last adventure and bring it home. At 2 am in your pajamas, you can research recipes from around the globe and incorporate them into your regular weekly repertoire. Eight years ago we handed out Tim Tams at our wedding. Today, you can find the authentic chocolate awesomeness on the shelves at Target. Be aware of the airlines and custom restrictions, but if you can, bring some of your travel finds home (airlines may prohibit some foods entering the US such as meats, nuts or any fresh produce). Search where to grab those finds nearer to you and pop them in your cupboards. Get a friend to send them to you when they next venture to that spot. Treating your taste buds is one sure way to continue that journey amidst everyday life.
Whether it’s your first taste of Memphis barbecue, your first Montana huckleberry, your first bite of a Maine whoopee pie or an overseas adventure that smacks of spices, sauces, and scintillating dishes, why not add it to your kitchen staples? I promise, the moment you open the bag, twist the lid, tear a piece of the bread or recreate a dish you had somewhere else – you’ll smile. Within mere moments you’ll be transported to where you first had that dish. The memories will flood in and you’ll get to relive your adventure with each bite. Sometimes the traveler in you can’t manage to grab that weekend away, book the adventure or get to that favorite spot in person. The taste of travel can do more than follow you home—it can help you get where you’d like to be, even on a weeknight.
Okay, I’m off to make a Vegemite toastie. What are you making tonight, I mean, to where will you journey without leaving your kitchen?