Trade fantasies & overcome hate by cooking together

"Watching Sunset Salar de Uyuni Bolivia Luca Galuzzi 2006" by I, Luca Galuzzi. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Sunset, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia” by Luca Galuzzi.

In my early 20’s I had a few friends who liked to play Grand Theft Auto. They’d lay on the floor for hours, only emerging to pay the pizza delivery boy and refill their coozies. Curious (and eager for a slice), I grabbed a controller and joined them a few times.

Here’s what I discovered: “GTA” is a really violent game based on the premise of becoming the most powerful criminal possible. Stomping characters until they… perish… (something many young players do while laughing) is not uncommon.

It’s completely gross.

And this isn’t just about violence – its about choosing to be the bad guy.  If I really step back and look at the “fantasy” this game provides, I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed for the game developers and I am embarrassed for ever picking up a controller.

The fantasies we engage might never affect our lives, but they definitely reflect our realities.

Lots of people would tell me to lighten up – they might say “it’s just a game” or  “a video game does not make killers.” And perhaps they’re right. I haven’t done a study. But I am certain of one thing: the things we turn to reflect our lives – who we are at the moment, what we’re feeling, what we’re struggling with.

I don’t think people spend hours playing extremely violent games unless they have a gap in their lives they need to fill. It might be as simple as boredom. Or it might be as dramatic as feeling abandoned. The first is easily resolved. The second? Not so much.

I followed the herd because I didn’t know what I stood for.

It’s not exactly a surprise that my life was more full of strife when I filled it with junk like violent video games, smoking, and bad relationships. During my teenage years and early adulthood I was still figuring out who I was and what I stood for.

I was still developing my inner compass. For goodness sakes: I even remember struggling with “hurting someone’s feelings” if I didn’t laugh at their mean jokes.

Those days are gone.

I will never give a pity laugh for a cruel joke again.

I will also never play a game like GTA again.* I’m not interested in escaping to a fantasy of a destructive, hateful world. I’m not interesting in pretending to hurt anyone. I am interesting in healing, helping, and building something good.

I’m enamored by shows like Dr. Who – where the hero wins the day with his brain, not his brawn.

But here we are, another decade of my life gone by, and I am playing a game called GTA – every day.

Thankfully this time it’s not Grand Theft Auto.

This time I’m choosing to be the good guy.

Wouldn't it be great if your kid's first thought was not theft and mayhem when someone mentions GTA?

It was not without quite a bit of irony that I realized the abbreviation to my quest to eat a meal from every country in the world – Global Table Adventure – was “GTA.”

But what a difference. Instead of stealing cars and killing cops, the GTA I created was about mixing spices and preparing meals together.


Me and you? We’re building a community interested in cooking towards love, community, and global awareness.

Imagine if young people spent less time engaged in a fantasy world where they’re a bad guy and spent more time in the kitchen with their families, cooking and sampling delicious food from around the world. Would we find that, 50 years from now, this would be a happier planet? That there would be less mindless pizza eating on the couch, and more time spent at the table together?

One thing is certain: it would definitely be a more delicious place to live.


What’s in your way?

Even if you (or your loved ones) don’t play video games, there is still work to do.

Take time for introspection – turn off your phone, your laptop, the TV, the radio – and sit in silence. Think about what mindless, repetitive acts you do that get in the way of your dream for a peaceful home and world. What can you cut out that is getting in your way (or, worse, numbing you out from the REAL love waiting for you)?

Remember – it starts with ourselves.

It starts at home.

And getting on the right path may be as simple as cooking a good meal together.

A life filled with good food and loving company is not a fantasy – it’s reality you can create.


* Are there are any peace-minded video games you can recommend to those readers who still like to play once in a while but are interested in shifting away from violence towards something constructive? For me, games like SimCity – where the only enemy is natural disaster and traffic congestion – appeal to my inner geek! If only Dr. Who made a video game…


  1. Denise says

    Flow and Flower. They are like meditation. Or echochrome…fantastic puzzles about changing your perspective.

    • Sasha Martin says

      I looked up these games – they are total mind-trips. So interesting, Denise. Thank you.

  2. Stacey K. says

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. I’m a gamer and a comestibles enthusiast 😉 and I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now. My family and I are immigrants to this great country of ours, and as much as I love America, I love my “motherland” as well and I appreciate anyone’s efforts to explore other cultures.

    Anyway, to add to the Flow and Flower comment above: Journey (PS3) is an incredible game. It’s certainly not fuzzy and warm – if anything I find it much more pensive and thought-provoking – but I count it as one of the best games ever designed. Katamari Damacy is an incredibly addicting and highly entertaining/amusing PS2 game where, well, you roll things up in a giant ball. It’s a great (slightly tipsy) party game. 🙂

    • Sasha Martin says

      Love that word – comestibles!

      Just read up on Journey and it says “The developers sought to evoke in the player a sense of smallness and wonder, and to forge an emotional connection between them and the anonymous players they meet along the way.” Wonderful. And the little clip I heard of the music is haunting/lovely. Thanks, Stacey!

  3. awe…nice post but you totally are DR. WHo obsessed…lol ..I love little house on the prairie repeats…. <3 video games…hmmmm..i like the one where the penquin waterskies……..

  4. Avery says

    My favorite video game is Amimal Crossing. You can’t die and aren’t timed, my type of game.

  5. angiehf says

    Powerful post, Sasha — very thought provoking. No gamers here, but my grands play Minecraft, Legos & something with penguins & ponies. I think their parents are more concerned about online bullying than violence.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Online bullying is SCARY. I don’t know what the world will be like when my daughter is old enough to be online by herself… but I’m working to raise her with thick skin and inner peace.

  6. I always felt, when you invite friends over for dinner, you have to engage them in the cooking, by asking them to help. I never ask them to bring anything but rather to help prepare the meal. One person can make the salad, another can do the barbecue or help lay the table. Another can prepare a jug of water and another can do the washing. And you can educate your friends about good healthy food and try something new and even teach them how to cook certain recipes. For example my friends get fascinated when I make a Cinnamon red lentil curry in front of them or even ask a friend to do it under my instructions. A demonstration if you will, a great talking point and makes them feel special.

  7. Thank you for saying what every parent & child needs to hear – but how will they? unless we ‘pass the word’ (and ‘pass the plate’ at the table, instead of car or coffee-table fast food!) I hope all your readers share this post & make a copy for their schools’ teachers. Thank you, Sasha,

    for continuing to post and present good “food for thought” & for our tables!

  8. I enjoy playing The Sims 3, it’s kind of like playing with a virtual doll house. You create your characters and their houses, dress them in appealing ways and role play their lives. I saw a cool game on Steam where you’re a mother bobcat trying to raise her kittens which looked appealing.

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