I was already planning my return to Tasmania in early 2017 to perform a culinary residency at Ratho Farm. The idea, which I cooked up with Ratho’s owner, Greg Ramsay, was to promote a few pop-up events featuring regional American cuisine crafted from the amazing local ingredients I had discovered on my first visit in October 2016. I’d escape the Chicago winter and cook three days a week in exchange for room and board and all the golf and trout fishing I could handle.
Then came the unexpected and altogether unwelcome news that Donald Trump would be the next U.S. president. Suddenly I started pondering whether Tasmania might be just the first of a series of far flung culinary adventures celebrating one of the truly Greatest things about America: it’s food.
If all goes well, maybe I can find a way to stay gone a bit longer…
My cooking background: I’m a refined home cook who’s thrown her fair share of swank dinner parties.
I started humbly, cooking for my family at a very early age. The six of us lived in the projects of Kansas City, and many of my first ingredients came to me in food pantry boxes and bags that were, frequently, collections of bizarre and cast-away foodstuffs. I would pull them all out and try to figure out how they made sense together: olives, pasta, ketchup, Spam. (It wasn’t that bad!)
In college, I spent a substantial fraction of my student loan money throwing exorbitant dinner parties themed around countries that I hoped to visit one day. I was fortunate enough to go on to visit many of those countries, first as a solo traveler and then as a faculty wife and now, again on my own, as a travel writer.
I love to eat adventurously abroad, bring home flavor memories and then try to recreate them. What excites me about this trip is the opportunity to go the other way: to take foods I’m intimately familiar with and re-interpret them locavore-iously.
I’m pretty sure I can pull this off.