I recently had the good fortune to meet up with an old friend during one of his many transient visits to Samui en route to the nearby island of Phangan. As former band mates, partners in crime, and all round trouble-making-good-bros, we met for some drinks to see what hell two aging misfits could raise. It was quickly evident this was not one of his multi-annual detoxifying sabbaticals he uses to escape the environmental rigors of living in a metropolis struggling to cope with their economic revolution and the consequential industrial boom. No, this was a time for revelry and a time to act out our wanna-be rock-star-chef-writer aspirations.
But wait, this dude is a rock star! When you talk about someone dedicating themselves to his craft, art, being, or whatever, this guy is it! Yes, this dude has talent, but he puts in the work required to hone it, continuously, and as a result he can play the guitar like a motherfucker ringing more bells than a Chuck Berry Christmas choir! It’s what he believes in. It’s his faith, his religion, his testament to being alive and walking this earth, and without it he would soon wither and fade.
So off we went, full speed down the familiar road of toxicity! First, he made it a point to congratulate me on the recent publishing of my book and to say he and many of our friends were proud of me for seeing the project through completion. Damn! Thats cool I thought! Immediately he then razzed me a bit about being a ‘blogger’ but that he was into it and advised me to incorporate a bit of my book into the blog to help promote it. Fair enough.
It’s a reminder that friends can push us in the right direction when we need help and when we’ve gone astray of our originally intended path. Friends can encourage us when we are full of self-doubt and self-destruction, and friends bring us back to reality when we allow our ego to get the better of ourselves. True friends find inspiration through your desires and accomplishments without jealously or hate. True friends help coax out your true aspirations.
My point is this; Each one of us is living the life set out before us, and whether you believe in fate, faith, or hope, good fortune, good luck or bad luck, hard work, determination, or some big calamity in the sky, very few of us go through it utterly alone. Regardless of the nature of some relationships, we are all born to a mother and father. Some of us have siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. If we are fortunate over time we accumulate teachers, mentors, lovers, and those we call our friends. None of these relationships are immune to the strain and harsh realities life will inflict upon them. Some of them will endure the tests of time, others will not and fade into our past. This too is ok, for they have all shaped us into who we are at present.
Now on the advice of my good friend, I will bluntly and shamelessly promote my book with the inclusion of a short excerpt from the introduction. Using food as the great denominator of humanity, it too touches on the importance of friendships and how something so intrinsic to life can allow people to set aside their differences and recognize our shared difficulties while focusing on similar ambitions.
‘The Traveling Chef’ from 'Baking Bread for the Genius'
'As cooks, we learn, borrow, copy, and interpret recipes from our family, friends, teachers, mentors, employers, colleagues, peers, and professionals. I owe my culinary knowledge to everyone with whom I have ever shared a kitchen or from whom I have ever borrowed a recipe. Their influences and recipes can be found throughout this book. In this book, I share recipes given to me by a special few I have been fortunate enough to have known and whose cooking I have enjoyed for many years of my life.
A funny thing about the many cultures spread throughout the world is their never-ending ability to replicate themselves in familiar ways. Whether separated by an ocean, a continent, mountains, or the sea, the human’s adaptability for survival universally finds itself repeated in the many forms of foods it depends upon for sustenance. Breads are no exception.
As travelers, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience other worlds, communities, and cultures as seen through the lives of the multitudes of peoples inhabiting our world. We can travel blindly, without pause for thought or consideration, or we can welcome what is offered with open mindedness and acceptance. In choosing the latter, we allow our own knowledge and understanding to reach beyond its previous limitations, and we begin to understand each other. We share the same struggles and collectively strive for the same common goals.
Each of us is someone’s son or daughter, and we all want what is best for our loved ones. As we search for acceptance, we seek the work necessary to support our families. We search for individuals who can share in our success, and we hope to find at least one individual connection that will stand by us through the good times as well as the bad. Throughout it all, day and night, we find ways to satisfy our hunger. Of all things human, nothing is more consistently the same as the never-ending search for nourishment.
There are few experiences more rewarding than sharing a good meal with family and friends, and nothing shows a deeper sense of hospitality than the offer to sit at the table of strangers and share their food. As a cook, it pleases me to travel the world and learn the foods of every people and culture I have the fortune to encounter. It is the surest way to make new friends and exchange stories that give value to a lifetime. My opportunities in this regard have been many.'