How obsessively cooking the world helped me face my past


Have you ever heard someone mutter “I just want to leave the past behind me”?

When I started this blog, I thought it was about three little things: teaching my picky husband to look at food as an adventure, not an attack; raising my daughter with international perspective; and satisfying my own wanderlust. But when I began writing my memoir, my editor challenged me to dig deeper. She said something like: “Cooking the world, week after week, isn’t exactly a normal thing to do.” She sent me away to think about what my obsessive behavior was really about.

The past kept coming up. The foster homes. The separation from  my mother. The search for an unconditional home.

I soon realized cooking the world was not simply about the food. It was about finding a sense of belonging.

But, no matter how many countries I cooked, I’d never find my place in this world if I didn’t make peace with my past.


We all have struggles. I very clearly kept them off of this blog and, for the most part, still do. But burying the past as a way of life is not the answer. It leads to misplaced shame and gives too much power to the events that once hurt us. It can be toxic to cultivating true inner peace.

I now realize that, when I air out the past, I allow my wounds to breathe and heal.

So, how did cooking the world help me face my past?

Cooking a meal from every country in the world is a simple enough concept. Going through more than 195 countries and territories, week after week, served as a walking meditation. There was power in each meal, drawing together my family, giving me grounding (and a sense that I belonged to the world family).

Each time I cooked another country, I began to see similarities to dishes I’d had over the years. One country’s love for apricots reminded me of my grandpa. Another country’s obsession with avocados reminded me of my mother. And on it went.

For the most part, I avoided writing about these connections. After all, wasn’t this blog supposed to be about other people?

Indeed it was. But the more we study others, the more we learn about ourselves.

A quest of this sort could be finished, but not really complete…not until I faced these revelations – many of which which were intensely emotional. For me, the deep introspection came with writing my memoir (no pressure!). So many have asked if the process of writing about my atypical upbringing was therapeutic – in a word, yes.

Cooking the world by itself was emotionally passive. Connecting it to my childhood with self-awareness was the final, necessary step to completing my quest.

What I learned? Facing the past heals.

Overcoming past challenges in order to live our most vibrant life is something that we can all benefit from. I want to share more of my story with you and help you identify how you can turn your Anguish into your Answer for a happy family and work life. No more hiding. No more shame. Just an honest life, free from the bonds of fear.


If you’d like to explore some of these ideas with me, I’d love to meet with you. I’m thrilled to announce the extension of my book tour in the Midwest and NYC.

These aren’t just book signings. These are opportunities to hear more about my story and how you can turn your pain into your passion (especially the one in Kansas City). I’ve chosen to highlight these two events because they are going to be super fun – and are just around the corner – but there are more coming!


This Saturday (June 6th) I’ll be in New York City at the Global Family Reunion. This festival will break the world record for largest family reunion. During this fun-filled day, look for me on the storytelling stage where I’ll speak and host a book giveaway. Or bring your book and I can sign it! (Ticketed Event)


On Saturday, June 13th and Sunday, June 14th, I’ll be in Kansas City at the Life Purpose Project speaking about how my childhood helped shape me into the woman I am today – and how we can all use our paths to forge our futures. There will be a workshop so that you can leave the event equipped with the resources you need to effect change in your life (Ticketed Event).

For more future appearances and other details, check out my events page


  1. Kate says

    I found your book first, and having devoured it, am delighted to come to your blog again and again for inspiration and wonderful recipes. I so hope your book tour will bring you to the Twin Cities! I would love to hear you speak in person. Have a great time at these upcoming events, Sasha! And thank you for sharing your story with the world.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Kate, it’s lovely to hear from you! Thanks for reading and for your enthusiasm. If you’re in the mood for a mini road trip, I believe the Wichita book signing is 2 1/2 hours away (details are on the events page).

      • Sasha Martin says

        Ha ha – oops. Apparently there’s a Twin Cities, OK that the map pulled up (hangs head). Never mind. The closest event is KC, and it’s 6:20… much more of a road trip!

  2. Rene Marie Foust says

    Oh I so wish I could make your event. I read your book and felt a real connection to your story. I loved every page and have since recommended it to many people, I even told the owner of a local vineyard that has just opened in my area that she should offer your book for sale (she sells books and blankets and things for people to purchase for a picnic). I was so excited when I read that you were extending your book tour and that you would be in New York (that’s close enough for me to drive) but unfortunately the date doesn’t work (I will be helping out at a football camp for underprivileged youth in Baltimore) Maybe I will be able to catch you another time. Until then thanks so much for sharing your story and I will continue to follow your blog. I hope to attempt to cook the world myself. I think it will be a grande adventure. thanks for the inspiration


    • Sasha Martin says

      Thank you Rene – and yes, it will be a grand adventure. Take lots of pictures 😉

  3. A heartfelt story Sasha. Thanks for having the courage to share such a personal story. The past can be so tragic, but at least you channeled it into a healthy outlet. For that I applaud you. Now you have built a wonderful life with a loving husband and a beautiful child. And food will continue to form the bedrock of that stability for many years to come, because food is health, engagement, communication, pleasure, joy, creativity and a passion for life.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Finding some sort of outlet is critical, otherwise we can so easily become overwhelmed.

  4. The renowned Swiss psychoanalyst Verena Kast calls this “the creative leap” – the best way to overcome a crisis. I find it amazing what quest you set out to do and what you achieved.
    Maybe you’ll come to the Northeast, too?

  5. Janet Goodell says

    I got a very good report card from my superintendent last week. He said he really enjoyed the pics I had up on my smartboard (giant monitor). He enjoys geography and loves how I squeeze a little into my science classes every week. The students ask me about foods I’m cooking, I ask questions about crops grown wherever. In short, you are helping my teens learn about the world. My very own teen is wondering how this will work when he leaves for college in August. I told him I’ll work something out. Thank you for such a wonderful experience.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Janet, this makes me so happy to hear! Give your teens a high-five from me. I’m sure your lessons will stay with them forever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.