A Pilgrimmage to Love Your World

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Nearly four years ago, when I set out to cook a meal for every country in the world, I didn’t know I was embarking on a pilgrimage.

I just had a bout of wanderlust.

A picky husband.

A baby I wanted to raise with an appreciation for the world’s inherent beauty.

I wanted her to love the world (and I wanted her world to love her!).

 

I cooked, cooked, cooked. I took thousands upon thousands of photos. My husband, Keith, filmed Ava, week  after week.

I was so focused on checking countries off my list, I didn’t notice the hole in my own spirit.

What the real adventure was all about.

From the time I was a little girl, all the way into my twenties, I struggled with separation, loss, death. There were foster homes. There was estrangement. Again and again, I had to relearn what family meant. I had to figure out where I belonged.  How to love and be loved. Unconditionally.

When life is filled with one challenge after another, it has a way of making us wonder how we survive.

Why we’re here.

So, even as I cooked the recipes of the world, I ached to find my purpose.

My place in this world… both as a mother and a wife, but also a global citizen – a citizen of spirit, heart, love.

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The Pilgrimage Concept

One of my favorite people in the world is Peace Pilgrim (that’s what she called herself). This woman dedicated her life to walking the United States for peace.  First, she walked 25,000 miles. Then she kept going, walking from 1953 until 1981. All the while, she slept when offered shelter, ate only when offered food. Her only belongings were the clothes on her back, a few pamphlets, a comb and a toothbrush. She lived this way until she died suddenly at age 72 in a head on collision (she was in the car of someone who had offered her a ride to a speaking engagement).

Despite her untimely death, Peace Pilgrim’s wise words live on:

“This is the way of peace: overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”

…and…

“All of us, all over the world, are cells in the body of humanity. You are not separate from you fellow humans, and you cannot find harmony for yourself alone. You can only find harmony when you realize the oneness of all and work for the good of all.”

In thinking about her words, I realized that, for this Adventure to bear fruit – to effect real change – I couldn’t just cook the world.

I had to share what I learned with the world.

This is the seed – the germination, if you will, of the pilgrimage concept…. of doing something, not for selfish reasons, but with a higher spiritual purpose.

Work for the good of all.

I started by sharing the recipes. Our stories.

All so that you can embark on your own adventure, with your families.

(And many of you have)

But I wanted to do more.

I had a vision of the entire world coming together around a stretch of tables in peace and harmony.

So we took it one step further.

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The Global Table Experience

This past October we brought the food of the world to life – all in one place, at one time.

A buffet filled with dozens of tables – several for each continent.

Recipes from 176 countries.

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Chefs from all over Tulsa came together to prepare food from all over the world at Philbrook Museum of Art (A full list of chefs is at the bottom of this post. Check them out. They have amazing hearts.).

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Thanks to their generosity, as well as our donated event designer, Concepts PR, we were able to keep the tasting free. Any canned food donations were given to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

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Crowds of people brought a quarter ton of canned food items, plus hundreds of dollars in cash donations.

Amazing!

Family flew in from multiple states. A flurry of hugs and last minute preparations, and before I knew it, it was time.

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The food? Hot.

The line? Long.

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Watching the crowds snake through the tables was overwhelming.

They started on one side of the museum and continued around, down and out, and around again.

People told me it took two hours to get their food… but that it was worth the wait.

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And, just when I though the museum couldn’t get more packed, it did.

Look at this line…

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There eventually came to be such a crowd, that the line had to double back on itself…

…thus, when you got your plate and left the buffet area, you were flanked on either side by waiting guests…

Amazing.

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Of course, museum staff was on hand and we had a team of volunteers to help with flow.

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As well as west African drumming to entertain the kids!

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But the food… the food was the real star.

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People weren’t just grabbing the food. They were learning.

Reading the signs.

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Learning about cultures…

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And there was much to learn about…

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The kids had a tendency to pick out sweets.

Who can blame them?

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Love the famous face peeking back out at us, from under this girl’s arm.

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Becky from Kids World Citizen drove all the way from Texas with her family. So fun to meet them in real life!

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Tabbouleh! Ava’s favorite… _MG_3972

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This boy (and several others) went for the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream. Nice.

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I think these two girls had a strategy: one made a plate full of savory food; the other made a plate full of sweet food.

Good thinking…
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After Lunch

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After lunch, we convened in the theater.

Andrea Leitch, from National Geographic Traveler, interviewed me on stage.

That was fun!

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I got to tell people about how I donated my microwave, bread machine, and toaster.

How I filled two drawers with spices.

And much, much more.

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(I’m not sure when Ava lost her shoes, though…)

When it was all said and done…

360 men, women, and children ate food from all over the world.

This meant 360 people had experienced their world in a new way.

Their minds had opened a little.

Their hearts expanded.

Several told me they were inspired to go home and cook the world, too.

On this day, the world became a friendlier place.

A suitable ending to our Adventure.

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So, now what? What does it all mean?

For nearly four years I worked in my own kitchen, blind to the impact this adventure had on people beyond my computer “screen.” When I saw crowds of people enjoying food from so many countries – engaged and excited – I felt like I’d finally tapped into the real spiritual nature of this adventure.

To bring people together.

To celebrate all cultures.

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Peace Pilgrim always knew that when we devote ourselves to a pilgrimage for peace, we reap unexpected benefits.

We find our purpose. We find our place in this world.

Things just fall into place.

On top of all this, I learned one more critical lesson:

The more I love the world, the more the world loves back.

 

Special Thanks

 

CHEFS & ORGANIZATIONS:

Culinary Institute of Platt CulinaryBlue Label BartendingCancer Treatment Centers of AmericaChimeraDeco Restaurant GroupEuro-MartGlobal GardensHale High School Culinary Program, Justin Thompson of Juniper Restaurant & Martini LoungePRHYME: Downtown Steakhouse, and Tavolo, An Italian BistroLaffa Medi Eastern Bar and RestaurantLibby Auld of Elote & The VaultThe Girl Can Cook!Tuck Curren of Biga Italian RestaurantTulsa Technology CenterWhole Foods Market TulsaWomen In Recovery Culinary Creations Family & Children’s Services

EVENT SUPPORT:

ABCO Rents, Angela Evans, Media Consultant, Argie Lewis FlowersEisenhower SchoolMeghan Hurley, Concepts PRJ. Traczyk CreativePhilbrook MuseumRestaurant Equipment & SupplyRebekah Shannon PhotographyRetrospec Films.

WITH ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FROM:

Anonymous, Brian Schwartz, Judy Allen, Kami Collins, Kelly Crow, Keith Glennon, Amanda Simcoe, Marina Teper, Amanda Waller.

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Comments

  1. What a beautiful celebration of everything the GTA (and you!) has achieved in the last 4 years~~ I can see from all the photos that the day was a big success! :) I would’ve loved to have been there, haha!

  2. Fantastic Sasha, I would have loved to have been there. Its bit far away from Australia though!

  3. Just reading this brought tears to my eyes. You did an awesome job Sasha!
    I will be missing your weekly emails.
    PS You and your family look lovely in the photos!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thanks Marjan! You’ll still see me in that inbox a few times a month – I’m currently trying to decide when to start back up :)

  4. I just love you! That is all. :)

  5. happy thanksgiving….yay! <3

  6. aunty eileen says:

    xoxo

  7. aunty eileen says:

    A poem

    It’s not about me
    It’s not about you
    It’s not about an entity
    It is about all of us working as one.

    It’s not about me
    It’s not about you
    It’s not about an entity
    It is about all of us living in harmony.

    by me

  8. What an amazing adventure you let us be a part of. What a wonderful gift you have given your daughter by introducing her to the world one plate at a time. What a terrific way to spend time with your husband as you both became engaged in presenting the world culinary.

    Thank you for the time and commitment you’ve made over these past four years. Broadening our knowledge of the world through culture and cuisine while on a personal journey was entertaining and enlightening. We shall miss you, Sasha.

    PS How long will the site be available. (No printer, so I’ve be hand-writing the recipes.)

    Take care, I wish you peace and good health.
    Suzanne in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Suzanne – Thank you for your thoughts! I don’t plan to take the recipes down – they’ll be available for the foreseeable future :)

  9. This seriously brought tears to my eyes! I am researching right now to start our own global table adventure in January and I am so excited! A lot of my meals are featuring recipes from you site and we can’t wait to taste them. Thank you for taking the time to share this journey with all of us. You have affected so many people in ways I don’t know think you know. I can’t wait to follow the second part of your journey.

  10. aunty eileen says:

    Harmony… “From a Distance” sung by Bette Miller. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=m6a5ty1K0Fk

    • aunty eileen says:

      Lyrics to “From a Distance” song ^ – the wish and heart of every man:

      From a distance the world looks blue and green,
      And the snow-capped mountains white.
      From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
      And the eagle takes to flight.

      From a distance, there is harmony,
      And it echoes through the land.
      It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace,
      It’s the voice of every man.

      From a distance we all have enough,
      And no one is in need.
      And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
      No hungry mouths to feed.

      From a distance we are instruments
      Marching in a common band.
      Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
      They’re the songs of every man.
      God is watching us. God is watching us.
      God is watching us from a distance.

      From a distance you look like my friend,
      Even though we are at war.
      From a distance I just cannot comprehend
      What all this fighting is for.

      From a distance there is harmony,
      And it echoes through the land.
      And it’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves,
      It’s the heart of every man.

      It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves.
      This is the song of every man.
      And God is watching us, God is watching us,
      God is watching us from a distance.
      Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
      God is watching us from a distance.

  11. Accomplishments this big, made from many small steps over many years, always bring tears to my eyes. Congratulations. And thank you.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      It’s funny you say that – I remember when we started out… the ending seemed so very far away. It felt almost impossible to cook food from so many places … so all I could do was focus on one week at a time. The small steps. Hugs.

  12. annaclarice says:

    Thank you for the adventure, thank you for sharing with the world. I’m looking forward to following your next adventure. Peace be with you.

  13. If scheduling hadn’t prevented it, I would have gladly flown from Seattle for this event! Any chance you’ll do another one? Or take it on tour? :) The story and photos are great – confirmed for me that I should have tried harder to rearrange my schedule! Peace be with you as your journey continues!

  14. I love this ending! I found your blog quite a way into your experiment with cooking the world, but eagerly told many friends and co-workers about what I thought was a fantastic way to expand all of your horizons, your husbands, Ava’s, and even your own. Thank you for sharing this gift with us all. I hope you continue blogging with a new purpose!

  15. Sasha, the event was amazing from conception to execution to attendance! Many we’re saying how fantastic it was to be there for it and to experience such an array of dishes from all over! Congratulations and thank you!

  16. Pam Wilbur says:

    Thank you, I have learned a ton and totally enjoyed following your adventures. I love the people of the world too, and the interesting foods and the cultures. Bless you.

  17. Truly inspiring. I’m not sure what else there is to say. Except … when did Ava grow up? I still remember those videos of her either loving or hating (spitting out) foods from all over the world. :)

  18. You are amazing, you created something beautiful and have made all your readers’ lives richer over the years. Good job!

  19. It has taken me awhile to make it to this post, but oh – how wonderful. Your journey is inspiring Sasha. Though I came to Global Table Adventure only year before last, how glad I am that I did.

  20. 8 months ago I found myself in a new country yet again and decided to cook the world to embrace, not abhor, my nomadic life. A google search for a recipe from Bhutan when I got to the B’s, led me to your website and I was blown away to learn that someone across the world had the courage and stamina to complete a project I had recently embarked on. And undertake every country’s cuisine so genuinely.
    Well done Sasha, it’s very inspirational and powerful. I hope you continue to express your creative and culinary talents.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Su, I love your spirit. Good luck on your quest. It is hard being a nomad, but cooking makes connections where we might not otherwise find them.

  21. Sasha, you’re an inspiration. I had tears in my eyes reading this post. I hope you’re now finding the peace you search for. You’re not alone. I find, for me, that it comes and goes. If you ever wind up in the UK, do drop me a line. Thank you for the journey. I’m missing your posts already! xx

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Hugs, Sophie. Thank you for your kind words. I hope to get my family to Europe sometime soon – but who knows where we will land :)

  22. aunty eileen says:

    Hi again Sasha: Here you and your readers will like this. Here you fondly mention your days in Paris and this I think you and your spirit will like with music and song ‘River Flows In You’. “Paris 2013 TimeLapse in Motion (Hyperlapse by Kirill Neiezhmakov)” http://vimeo.com/66009998

  23. Sasha, this was amazing to read, even though I am late in commenting… \

    inspiring, powerful, whole.

    I loved to be introduced to Peace Pilgrimage, and confess, ashamed, that I had never heard of her.

    You did an amazing job with your journey, taking so many people with you, me included…

    A heartfelt thank you!

  24. Everything about this site is wonderful. The organization and simplicity. Your joyful and imaginative descriptions. The different perspectives between you, your daughter and husband. Most of all, your honesty is touching. It inspires me to try new things.

    Thank you so much for investing your effort into creating this window into the world. It’s beautiful in every way and has re-awakened my childhood fascination with other countries’ culture and geography.

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