Interview: Dan & Audrey from Uncornered Market

Imagine if this was your view… Imagine if you could be in these places… Imagine if the world was your back yard.

You’re in for a real treat today – Audrey Scott and Dan Noll from Uncornered Market are here to answer a few questions. They live a life I can only dream about. They explore the world for a living. The world is their back yard.

That’s right. In 2006 left their corporate desk jobs, got rid of their belongings, and went off to… well, wherever the wind blows them. They support themselves by writing travel articles, sharing their inspiring photography, and with their web site.

What does this mean? It means while I’m overwhelmed with too much stuff in my small house, they’re off with nothing more than a couple of backpacks in the great big world. Free and light as a couple of birds. It makes me want to have a yard sale.

I love their approach to life – they’re filled with curiosity, adventure and good-will to the people of this world. Always interested in helping, they’ve been a great help with our world cooking adventure – making our Guatemalan Global Table (and others!) more authentic.

Now, without further ado, I’ll let them speak for themselves… about the unusual, the wonderful, and – of course – the tasty parts of our great, big, wonderful world.

From their album: Mothers around the world

1. What does “home” mean to you? What do you eat when you get homesick (if you ever do)?

This is a difficult question for us as we’ve lived outside the United States for almost ten years and even before that we lived on the opposite coast of where our families live and we each grew up.

In general, home for us is where things are familiar and we have a community of people. It could be back in the States with family and friends or perhaps in Prague, Czech Republic (where we last lived). And it could be somewhere else soon.

When I get homesick, I tend to crave things like bagels, deli sandwiches, and burritos.

(Related post: What do Nomads Call Home?)

2. Do you miss any of your “stuff” from pre-travel days?

Yes and no. We don’t really miss any of the furniture or stuff we had in our old place. But, we do miss not having a place of our own that is familiar and we can return to and recharge batteries from time to time. And, when we’re in a place with really bad coffee we do miss our stovetop Moka coffee maker.

An olive stand in Europe, long beans in Asia, the waters of Norway

3. Please share an unusual food story from you travels.

We arrived at our final destination of our horse trek in Kyrgyzstan and no more than five minutes later our trekking guide was on the ground slitting the throat of a goat and skinning him. He smiled, “Dinner tonight.”

Hours later, we were sitting on the floor around a table in a dark yurt as every single bit of the goat was passed around on a tray. The grandfather shepherd next to me had secured the skull and was cutting off chunks of meat with a hand-made knife.

Dan and I, as guests, were each given a desired part – the jaw bone. We gnawed away at it for as long as we could. The remains of the goat were put into a giant bowl and homemade noodles and broth were added to it. Then, everyone shoved their hands (mind you, there was no running water in this yurt to wash hands) into the steaming bowl to mix it all together. At that point, we looked at ourselves and thought, “We’re going to be sick tomorrow from all the bacteria that just went in there. But, we can’t say no.”

So, when in Rome – or more like in a yurt – you dig your hands in and eat Beshbarmak, the traditional Kyrgyz dish literally meaning “5 fingers” as locals do…with your hands.

And by some miracle, we actually did not get sick after all.

(Related post: Goat and Five Fingers)

Clockwise: Family-style meal in Jordan, Cat's Ear Pasta in China (mao erduo), and Saltenas in Bolivia

4. What is one of your favorite food memories?

A spontaneous feast put together by the market vendors of a small town in the hills of northwest Georgia (country of) called Zugdidi. As is usual for us, the fresh market was the first stop when we arrived in Zugdidi. We found friendly and curious vendors; it was obvious they didn’t get a lot of foreign travelers visiting. On our way out we asked one of the vendors about where we could find a specific Georgian dish called lobio (a hearty bean soup). Because this dish was associated with troubled times in Georgia just after independence and people couldn’t afford more than this, it was difficult to find in many restaurants.

Leila, the vendor, sat us down at one of the stalls, told us to wait and went into commander mode. Within a few minutes a feast was assembled in front of us, not only of lobio, but of contributions of bread, salad, fruit, cha cha (Georgian grappa) and honey from all the vendors around us. We passed around the Cha Cha bottle, everyone shared their story and we had a great time.

There is a saying in Georgia that “Guests are a gift from God” and people take this seriously. These women with very little all came together to welcome us as their guest in their market. Can’t think of a better meal.

(Related post: A Surprising Feast in Zugdidi)

5. How do you figure out how to tip – is each country/region different?

We usually try to ask locals or long-term expats living in that country about what is considered normal. If we have no idea at all, we’ll usually round up or tip about 10%.

Note from Sasha: I was surprised to learn in my travels that tipping is not nearly as common abroad as it is in the USA. Many countries do not expect a tip and if they do, 10% is considered generous.

From their album: Father's around the world

6. What’s next for you?

We are going next to Tanzania! This will be Dan’s first time to Africa and his seventh continent. We’ll be on a Gap Adventures tour to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, go on safari and visit Zanzibar for the next few weeks. After that, we hope to be still for several months in Berlin. We’ve done a lot of travel and moving around this year, so we’re looking forward to having some stability in a city we love for several months.

Thanks for chatting with us at the Global Table!

Happy & safe travels to you both.

All photos copyright Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market.
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Comments

  1. Incredible!!! Can’t trade those experiences for anything. Your courage is inspiring!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      It’s a whole new world I never thought was possible (traveling for a living). Major cool points. :)

  2. Brian S. says:

    I did this for six years. My backpack was from Abercrombie & Fitch, which was much different then, and lasted the entire time, and carried all my possessions. Best time of my life.

  3. awesomeness before during and plenty to come!!!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Speaking before, during, and after…did you know that the most excited we’ll ever be about something is right before we do it? I read that in an article recently and it really seems to apply. Anticipation is the greatest part. And that’s why I think it would be so fun to travel for a living – there’s always something new and unusual to look forward to.

  4. Sasha, thanks for your interest in interviewing us as part of your Guatemalan food journey. It was fun to think back to these great eating memories. For us, food is such a big part of our travels, not only because we love to eat but because we find food is a great equalizer and a great way to meet local people. You start a conversation about how to make tortillas and end talking about family, politics, and life.

    Our chosen lifestyle definitely has provided us with some amazing experiences around the world. But one of the things I’m always amazed about when we return to the States to visit family is how diverse the United States really is, even in small towns. Value this diversity so much now – it’s unique in the world.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      You are so welcome. I’m glad you were able to share a bit of your life with our readers – perhaps you will inspire one of us to set out on an exciting journey somewhere far away…. something they never thought possible until they read this interview :) Happy travels.

  5. some of my favorite bloggers and a great way to find your website. I am just over the border in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Well, over the border for a few days, at least. I lived there for about 15 years or so, but like Dan and Audrey, have been traveling for a while. In my case, pretty constantly since 2008.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      How neat, Michael. So glad you found your way here, too. ;) What a big change to go from Lawyer to full-time traveler (I saw your twitter handle)… amazing. Keep in touch!

  6. I love the idea of your meals from around the world and all the related posts you do. Great way to make the world smaller :) I also love Audrey and Dan. Thanks for the fun and interesting interview!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Sure thing Jenna… glad you enjoyed the interview. I happened across their site for the first time very early in my blog and found it so inspirational… it appeals to the dreamer in me. I’m glad you made your way over here, too. You’re right – it does make the wold smaller – that’s our hope, to teach people that we can all sit at one “Global Table” – we can all come together over food.

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