After 329 days on the go, and with over 31,000 miles under our belts, we have returned to northern Michigan, where we started our journey around the globe. We've laughed; we've cried. We've gotten drunk and shaved our heads (actually, that was just Tam). We've made friends from all over the world and come to understand the implications of the International Dateline. How could we ever begin to quantify or summarize our many exciting adventures? Some people make lists:
- Blog posts: 95
- Countries visited: 12
- Cities / locales in which we spent at least one night: 39
- Languages in which we learned to say hello and thank you: 5 (including English, from "G'Day" to "Cheers")
- Number of times we were transported by the following means of conveyance:
Bus (for intercity travel): 19
Rental vehicles: 3
Taxi: Too many to count, but including one really memorable moonlit trip along the east coast of the Sinai Peninsula and our first foray into travel by stretch limo on our approach to Waikiki
Train (for intercity travel): 20
- Pictures taken: 1, 294
- Postcards sent: 54
- World Heritage Sites visited: 26
First, we've resolved to eat more seasonally. The best part about our time in Israel was shopping for food almost exclusively at the Mahaneh Yehuda market, where, for instance, strawberries were evident in abundance and sold for a pittance for a couple of weeks, then replaced by cherries when the new harvest began. In Thailand, people use fruits and vegetables picked that day in the street food with which we were so enamored. Even in England, where the climate doesn't lend itself to the production of delicious produce in January, gastropubs hunker down in the winter with parsnip purees and soups of celeriac, eschewing fruits and vegetables imported from warmer climes.
This leads to another vow of ours - to eat locally, something done by necessity in most of the poorer countries we've visited but often hard to accomplish in the United States, where the average grocery store food item has traveled 1,500 miles to reach your plate and a peach grown in California is cheaper to buy than one grown down the road. Of course, the issue of “food miles” has received a lot of attention lately, not least in the form of books recounting experiences of eating totally locally for extended periods of time. The truth is, we're unlikely to stop using flour milled from imported wheat or sugar grown in the Caribbean; but we are going to make every attempt to buy produce and meat grown and raised reasonably close to our house. The environmental impact is tremendous, but there's a culinary one as well; the locally-grown, fresh parsnip is likely to make a more satisfying winter meal than the aged Californian avocado, with a little of the ingenuity that cooks in other nations display to a much greater degree than we Americans who are used to having oranges (however desiccated) whenever the desire strikes. So, inspired by rural France, urban Malaysia and even the corner pub in Hammersmith, we have resolved to sharpen our knives and ignore the temptations of mangoes in Connecticut.
We’ll be spending the rest of the summer gorging on cherries and peaches in northern Michigan. In a few weeks, it’s back to our little corner of New England in time for the first apples (and maybe, just maybe, the last lobsters) of the season. We may share a few new recipes, travel experiences and totem pole updates in the coming months, and we’re hoping that the memories of warming winter stews, street-side satay sticks and humble plates of hummus will sustain us and inspire our cooking as we try to apply the lessons of a year abroad to life at home. Thanks for reading!