We at Multicultural Kid Blogs are always amazed by the many gifted people we have in our group. One of our members is Sasha Martin, writer and chef at Global Table Adventure. Sasha has recently released a memoir, called Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Family, Food and Forgiveness.
We read the book for our book club and thought it’d be great to interview Sasha. We also organized this Global Table Adventure Blog Hop- you will find the participating blogs at the bottom.
Multicultural Kid Blogs: You mentioned you have a picky husband and daughter. How did your project affect their picky eating? Did it help? Were there things they’ve learned to eat and enjoy?
Sasha Martin: My husband started out as real “Mr. Picky.” When I met him he’d never had fresh spinach and had no idea what an eggplant was. Then I got the idea to cook a meal from every country in the world and publish it on my blog Global Table Adventure. Ha! That was a game changer. 195 countries later and I’m happy to say he’s shed that title. Before we ever began he decided to try everything at least once. This open-mindedness was the key to his transformation. We soon discovered that some of Keith’s aversions had to do with texture. Bringing the world into our kitchen presented him with a flurry of recipes to try. Over time he learned that some foods he disliked raw he might like cooked (and vice versa). My daughter, Ava, was about 7 months old when we started Global Table Adventure- she was completely open as an infant and enjoyed gumming her way through most dishes. As time went on she was more inclined to try new foods if she helped prepare them. That’s what got her excited about sushi at 2 years old! When we finally ate Zimbabwe she was about 4 1/2 years old. She still loves to ask “What country are we eating tonight, mama?”
MKB: How did you find the recipes? How did you do your research?
Sasha: I started out at the local library. It was a 15 minute walk from the house (with Ava in her stroller). It was a win-win: I’d pick out books from different countries and she’d get fresh air. When I found the World Cookbook for Students in the reference section I purchased my own copy of the 5-volume set. Love that set! I also enjoyed emailing with local restaurant owners, food bloggers, volunteers, and expats. These groups love making recipe recommendations and were also helpful when it came to assisting me with challenging preparation techniques.
MKB: It must have been difficult to write about such painful times in the past. Was it also (I hope) therapeutic?
Sasha: Absolutely. It is easy to see a troubled childhood in black and white. Writing my memoir helped me to find the grey area. I now realize that – despite the foster homes, estrangement, and loss – a lot of people were trying to do the best they could for me. It was far from ideal, but by starting Global Table Adventure I was able to use cooking as a walking meditation to work through some of those issues and to find my footing as a new mother. Best of all, bringing the world into my kitchen allowed me to find that deep sense of belonging I’d so yearned for as a child. You discuss the surprising global connections you made in Tulsa. What would your advice be to those who want to make similar connections but feel like where they live isn’t very diverse? Every community has its limitations but sometimes we make it worse by putting our community in a box. Here’s the truth: low expectations deliver because that’s all you’re willing to see. Instead, open your heart to possibility. Once I decided to cook the world the intention took root. Global Table Adventure started coming up in conversation. One thing would lead to another and I’d make a new connection or someone would introduce me to a new shop. I ran into people from Belarus, Bulgaria, and Finland. The Finnish woman was at a library playgroup – all I said was “I have to run home and cook Finland” and she replied “I’m half Finnish!” She came back with me and helped me cook! And that was just the beginning. It’s kind of like when you learn a new word and you start noticing it all around you. There very well may be more to your community than you realize.
MKB: You describe how difficult it was in the beginning to find a balance between your work and your home life. Any tips for other working parents (especially bloggers)?
Sasha: This is a great question. Any time you start out on a new venture there is a bit of hustle required to gain momentum. My project was no different. Cooking a meal from every country in the world, A-Z, week after week was an enormous challenge. But it built me a solid reputation and a passionate following of global foodies with a conscience. Having a framework helped protect our family time. To build a framework for your blogging work figure out how many times a week (or month) you’ll post, what the subject matter will be, and what you stand for. (This last is super important – there’s a million voices out there – so don’t try to do what someone else is doing. What we need to hear is your voice.) Once you figure all that out, then you know your deliverables. If it’s realistic it will help your work life from bleeding over into your personal life. Now that I’ve met my initial goal I’ve been able to scale back on my deliverables and find a better balance. Even though it’s often necessary in the beginning, I don’t believe we should be in a permanent state of hustle. But even when you scale back, the quality needs to be consistent and your work needs to remain helpful.
MKB: Now that the “cooking the world” project is over, how do you keep up these global connections for your daughter?
Sasha: We still enjoy international food weekly – both at home and on the blog. It became such an integral part of our family life we really didn’t want to stop. I’ve also begun integrating conversations about how bringing the world into our homes and kitchens can lead to a more peace-filled life. I had no idea how many people had similar childhood challenges until I put this book out into the world. Many have reached out and written to me. It demonstrates how desperate we all are for a sense of belonging. The truth is, we’re not alone in our grief and we shouldn’t lock it away to fester. We can witness for each other. That’s a beautiful thing.
MKB: What recommendations do you have for other families?
Sasha: Have fun with your children. Make meaningful memories. It doesn’t have to be by cooking the world and it doesn’t have to be on a blog, but build something together.
And if you do want to cook the world, you might be interested in this starter kit. Armed with my free online recipes and this 45-page guide, you’ll have everything you need to take your loved ones anywhere in the world you’d like… by dinnertime. Oh, and take lots and lots of pictures. Time sure does fly.
Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family and Forgiveness is available on Amazon, Barnes &Noble and National Geographic. Please read it but before you do, go over to Sasha’s blog and say hello! And, if you want to start your own journey of cooking the world, download Sasha’s 45 page starter kit to cooking the world.