Maybe there’s a time in my past, a constellation of seconds that I could look back on and say, this, this moment right here, this is the one when my life as a sea-faring, photograph-taking, recipe-developing, food-and-travel-writing sailor girl began.If there is such a moment, it’s lost on me. Dusty in gray-white brain squish and buried deep. It happened more like a series of unexpected choices that each evolved into what life is now, cooking and exploring and living on my 40-foot sailboat LaMo and writing about it all here.
You see, growing up, creative things weren’t always my thing. I had an older sister who could elicit feelings from depth and texture and color on a page. She could make your brain sink into your body and reduce you to raw human emotion and experience all with a dull pencil and a four-by-six inch sketchbook. But me? I was not that person. When I tried to do art as a kid, I’d claw my utensil with force and unease. My figures were more gumbi-like and flat than they were dimensional and emotive. They existed in a lightless universe that my art teacher once referred to as “basic” before being a basic bitch was even a thing.
So I devoted my early professional life to academia. I studied and taught classes on sex, gender, and in-depth interviewing technique for qualitative research methods. But also, while I was putting the finishing touches on my dissertation – compiling data and analyzing data and writing manuscripts – I reached this strange turning point. It felt like a tickle in the back of my throat at first. It was a longing that was mild but noticeably ever present. Over the years, the throat tickle became clearer and more established. Like strep throat though I’m not sure how I feel about likening my generally positive shift in lifestyle with the onset of streptoccocus bacteria.
It was telling me to live deeply. To live a Waldenesque existence and suck all the marrow out of life. It didn’t necessarily tell me to suck the literal marrow from any actual roasted marrow bones, the ones with pickled mustard seeds and crisp baguette slices, but I did that too just because I wanted to. So in my search for this more figurative life marrow, I landed here, in this blog space, where I could write and photograph and connect with others who share my most elemental loves: learning about new and different kinds of food, cultures, and lifestyles.
That I feel more fulfilled as a food and travel writer/photographer than I have anywhere else to date is perhaps unsurprising. I was born-and-raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, known by my grandmother as as the grandchild who insisted on ordering the fried alligator while everyone else ordered hamburgers. I wrote my first recipe at age six, failed at my first flan at age eight, and fell in love with the late Chef Chris Kerageorgiou’s chicken liver pate at age nine. I was the kid who loved food so much that they hated, hated, the people who insisted on taking photos after it had arrived. (See this Baked Alaska photo below from Antoine’s for evidence–I’m the one second from the left, with the death grip on her spoon and a look of horror amongst smiles, convinced the whole thing might disappear if we pause for a photo.)
While this journey towards living what I think of now as a life of marrow may have started in Portland, Oregon, it’s now somewhere else entirely. In a series of ever-changing, GPS coordinates that hover over the Caribbean Sea. I don’t really know exactly why I said yes when my husband asked me if I felt like moving aboard a sailboat to cruise for a while though I get asked that question all the time. Maybe it was another streppy kind of throat voice that nudged me to do it, maybe I was just intrigued by the idea of a constant access to new and different island-based cuisines. Or maybe it’s just that by this point, two years after I initially felt that first tickle voice to do something different, I had already resigned myself to saying yes to new and exciting chapters of life. Yes yes yes.
This one, as it turns out, just happens to belong on the sea.
ABOUT THE BLOG
Live every day as if tomorrow might never come. These are the words that I live by, the essence of my sailboat-based food and travel blog, and the very belief that gave me the boost I needed to journey away from a career in academia and towards a life with food and travel at the center. I’ve touched on some of the experiences that brought me to this way of living in this space before, but really what it all comes down to is this:
Life is fragile.
Eat the damn chocolate.
Find your marrow.
I didn’t expect to, but I found mine here, in the form of recipe-sharing and story-telling and travel adventures. And I feel lucky to say that this humble little blog has since taken me on a journey I never dreamed possible. I’ve developed recipes using some of the world’s best beef and spent a week in Nova Scotia photographing lighthouses and lobster and drinking way too many frosty pints of maritime craft beer. I’ve connected with just the best group of people over on Instagram and Facebook (come join!), have been featured in such places as Food52, BuzzFeed, and Yahoo, and was even named a finalist in the SAVEUR Blog Awards. (Still in happy shock over that one.) But I think the best part, the part that makes all of the struggle to get here worthwhile, is that I can honestly say for the first time in a long time, I feel comfortable in my own skin, more mindful of the richness that surrounds me, and excited to wake up every day.
Despite the blog name, the recipes I share with you here aren’t all over-the-top indulgent, though my New Orleans upbringing does frequently make an appearance in the form of fried foods. But I also share recipes that are simple and seasonal like Pan-Seared Gnocchi with Charred Ramp Pesto or bold and playful like Black Garlic Ice Cream with Cookie Crumble. Now that I’m coming to you from the Caribbean, much of my food has a seafood emphasis, like these Stone Crab Enchiladas Verdes with Quick Pickled Radish. But almost all recipes, even the ones with heavily sourced local ingredients (like queen conch!), offer ways of adapting for those who are less likely to live on a boat surrounded by tropical water.
Each post is inspired by a place and time but more than anything, each is inspired by a moment. And it’s to that precise moment that I want to bring you in words, photos, sail adventures, recipes, and everything in between. Because at the crux of it all, this space is intended as a place to connect with all of you through sharing stories and sharing recipes. Whether they’re words about finding my Cajun heritage or my topsy-turvy relationship with whiskey; from a (not quite) near death experience sailing across the Gulf Stream to my embarrassing childhood collection of alligator heads. The simple act of story-sharing – over a meal, please, someone pass the wine – is, to me, one of things that connects us most as humans.
Take a moment while you’re here to explore. Read some stories, cook some food. But whatever you do, don’t hesitate to sign up to stick around for a while and leave comments when you feel inspired. There’s nothing that makes me happier than swapping stories and breaking bread with new friends.