Sasha Martin

Save the date: Pop-up Book Club on Facebook LIVE

I’m hosting my first-ever Pop-Up Book Club on Facebook Live on Monday, December 19th at 8 pm EST (7 pm CST). We’ll be talking about my memoir Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family and Forgiveness. Ok, so going “live” feels a little scary. But I also think it’s going to be mad fun. Here’s the deal: I want to connect with you in a deeper way. I’ve loved, loved, loved attending local book clubs. I go to people’s homes. We share food and wine. People cry. People laugh. I cry. I laugh.  I try to answer questions. We make friends. Facebook Live is the best way I can think of to bring this experience home to you. You can tune in from your couch, your bed, your kitchen – wherever you’re comfortable. During our live chat, I will answer your questions about my memoir and show you a few items I used during my adventure to cook the world. I’ll also have a quick stocking stuffer idea using items you probably already have in your …

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Grand Canyon | by Chensiyuan

The ugly truth about chasing peace

Sometimes I think I chase this thing called peace because I can’t bear the thought of looking the ugly truth in the eye. And the ugly truth is that peace will always be right behind some monster, some affront to everything we hold dear. As we march forward in peace and love, there will be hard days. The odds will often be against us. We find happiness for a while, then something terrible happens. We try to keep our eyes on peace, but the monster blocks our view. It remains just out of reach. The wheel of fortune – she spins, she spins, she spins.  We stumble, we climb, we stumble, we climb. And so it goes. So, then why am I here? Why even try? What can I offer? A companion on the road, I suppose. Someone who says, let’s keep going, one step at a time. Shoulder to shoulder, the journey is easier. And what journey can continue without food? This much I know: We break bread with each other because every movement, …

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Bulgarian Memoir - Life from Scratch

Bulgarians read “Life From Scratch” & fall in love

It arrived one summer day in a nondescript, brown paper package reinforced with bubble wrap. We were on our way to the pool, I in my flip flops, she in her hat. “Keith,” I squealed (because squealing is still a thing that happens when joy doesn’t quite fit inside our hearts, the way it normally does), “Come quick.” Ava gave a little leap in response to my outburst, catching my energy in the way that kids do. Keith ran to us, his face a mix of fear – was something wrong? Was Ava hurt? But he read between the lines, between my big eyes and gaping mouth. He saw my laugh. This was good. This was very good. There, in my hands, was the Bulgarian edition of Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness. Many books never make a second printing, let alone a foreign translation. My toes began, very much on their own, to wiggle in gratitude. Lost in Translation The Bulgarian edition was put together by the lovely folks at Egmont Bulgaria, and …

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death

What does it mean to eat in peace?

What we put on our tables tells a mighty important story. In my time so far as a Research Fellow at University of Tulsa, I’ve come to appreciate globalization of our food on an entirely new level. Everything is connected – seeds, weather, harvests, shipping, pricing, grocery store availability, history, cooking, healthy digestion. If there is turmoil in just one part of this system? Everything falls out of whack. Fluctuations in the price of bread have brought about revolt. Even Mr. Death, himself, reflects the importance of the system; he carries a scythe – tool of the harvest. He is the reaper. If we are ever to realize peace, it must be from field to stomach. Our food tells a story, heartbreaking at times. Embroidered in 1929 on the sack above: My great-grandmother Rose, mother of Ashley, gave her daughter this sack when she was sold at 9 in South Carolina. It held a tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans, a braid of Rose’s hair. Told her ‘It is filled with my love always.’ They never saw each other again. …

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A fellowship of food

A Fellowship of Food

This is my cat, Malky. Sitting on my homework. Moments later, after some gentle kneading, he fell fast asleep, fuzz down on “The Language of Food,” by Dan Jurafsky. I debated the merits of waking him. But instead I’ve decided to use his catnap to tell you about my latest adventure. A Fellowship of Food I am proud (and honored) to announce that this week starts my journey as a 2016-2017 Research Fellow at the The University of Tulsa through the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities. That’s right – Ava isn’t the only one going back to school this fall! The powers that be at TU dubbed this year’s fellowship The Year of Food. Every Tuesday myself and 8 other fellows will gather together to discuss our research. Each of us will have a unique perspective: some will look into food law, others food history or geography, still others food art. It’s going to be delicious for the belly and the mind. The Peaceful Table My research will focus on Expressions of Peace & War at …

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2016-summer-olympics

What if you could live off Victory?

The Olympics celebrate the human form: bodies that move – blood pumping through veins, muscles twitching, brains firing. A place where gravity seems to be as awestruck as the rest of us. Even as newscasters contextualize the athletes by their nations of origin, the games are a rare chorus in an often discordant world, its very premise a celebration of effort and victory over the latest political skirmish. John Williams, theme composer for four Olympic games, quite possibly said it best: The Olympics are a wonderful metaphor for world cooperation, the kind of international competition that’s wholesome and healthy, an interplay between countries that represents the best in all of us. The food of Victory As I watch the players struggle and triumph, I can’t help but consider the food that makes those heroic bodies move. Despite some athletes endorsing frosted cereals and golden arches, I know the truth about good nutrition is far more complex. Back when I used to lift weights (another, bizarro lifetime ago), there was a lot of oatmeal, fresh fruit, eggs, and …

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New Orleans street art by Brandan Odums / Photo by Sasha Martin

Peace is not a verb

Peace is not a verb Peace does not twist or rush between bodies of water or flesh; There is no giving or delivering of peace. Peace is not the catch in a mother’s throat before her scream scales the body nor does it rise from vacant eyes Peace does not love or die. Peace does not lift, does not hoist. There are no weeds peace uproots and replants with purpose. Peace is not something I do to you or force upon you; Though a lover makes love and a rapist rapes, Peace is without clambering, bargaining, begging for change. Peace is the weed being the weed; Peace is mourning all morning – if that’s what’s to be done. Peace is knowing things aren’t well and scraping breath over lung anyway. Peace is stillness in the storm – Finding the eye, the gaze; Lone requirement for clarity Lone requirement for change. *** This poem came to me last night. My cat had just brought in a mouse, which my husband and I proceeded to chase around …

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"Ritual001" by NAEINSUN - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ritual001.jpg#/media/File:Ritual001.jpg

Dear Chris Kimball: Welcome to cooking the world!

Dear Mr. Kimball, At first, I was saddened to hear you left America’s Test Kitchen. Like so many, I’d come to rely on your impeccable standards and trustworthy recipes over the decades. They were a sure thing – dare I say, as sure as death and taxes but a lot more palatable. For me, this was more than a need for robot-like precision on my counter and in my oven (such an aim would be fruitless anyway: my oven runs hot – and it’ll be a long time before my pennies pile up enough to upgrade). My interest in your work started in 1998, when I was 19 years old. My mother is the one who introduced me to you, your recipes and your bow tie – an introduction wrapped up in the messy business of getting to know a mother who I had only seen once since I was 10 years old. Circumstances were challenging in my early childhood. My older brother and I slept in the living room, while Mom slept in the breadbox …

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A book signing for children

Book writing for children: Laying foundations for peace

Creative writing is peace education. The process of creating a world on paper helps children understand the real world. When a child imagines themselves in strange situations – or better yet, when they imagine what another person would do in their story – they learn to “walk in other people’s shoes.” A question like “What would your character feel like in the desert, looking at up at a massive pyramid” gets at a deeper question – what is it like to live in another part of the world? Suddenly, a child who has put no thought into what it would be like to be born into a different situation is considering it. Creative writing helps children learn empathy. When done with care, creative writing is also a lesson in conflict resolution.  Writing exercises should be built around traditional story structure, meaning the children must put their characters in some sort of peril. If a character’s boat tips over, then the child must imagine a way to get their characters to safety. If two characters have a disagreement, …

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Accidental lessons in parenting from Japanese Culinary Masters

Accidental lessons in parenting from Japanese culinary masters

My favorite time to obsess about my parenting choices is when I’m washing dishes, a mixture of warm soapy water and tomato sauce soaking my belly. Am I raising my six-year old right? Should she be doing more than yoga and dance? Or is she already too busy? Does she have time to let her mind wander? Should she be helping me with the dishes? Or would she be better off making mud pies? Then I began reading Rice, Noodle, Fish, by Matt Goulding. The subtitle to this book is not Parenting for Chefs… Nor did Anthony Bourdain Books / HarperCollins, the publisher, intend this book to have an interdisciplinary application. But the best books do. This is not some gentle text. Pursuant to the actual subtitle, Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture, this is not some gentle text, allowing the reader to sit comfortably in whatever generalist assumptions we might have about Japanese cooking. This is a 1,000-x magnification, showing crumb-level texture of the food scene in several major Japanese cities. From Tokyo to Noto, we sweep quickly past …

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featured

Peace is grace for what you *can’t* see

Last month I received some bad news – enough to shake me up pretty good. We’ve all been there: maybe someone you love gets in a car accident, maybe you blow an important work deal, break a leg, or lose your job. It’s bad news, but ultimately something you can get through, work out, and – hopefully – survive with grace. Grace for yourself and grace for those around you. This is different than experiencing death or other profound loss.  This drudgery of grief grinds at the spirit but doesn’t destroy us. As a coping mechanism many bury their emotions and just… move on. They protect themselves by “holding it together.” But grief finds the cracks and shows up in unexpected ways. After an hour of cleaning the kitchen (my first line of defense against stress and grief), I drove to the craft store, thinking I’d get some supplies to do a little art therapy. I stared at the black ink pens for so long that it would be reasonable to think I was either a shoplifter or had fallen asleep. …

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Ava's first food

What my baby thinks about eating the world

We began cooking the world with Afghanistan, when my daughter was 7-months old. We completed the final country, Zimbabwe, when she was 4 1/2. Now she’s 6 1/2 and we continue to try new foods weekly. Below is a unique look into my daughter’s perspective about our Global Table Adventure – as I like to imagine it. This first installment is her perspective in the first six months of the adventure, from 7-13 months old.  Who says you need teeth to eat the world? I’m only seven months old but mom tells me we’re going to eat a meal from every country in the world. That’s more than 195 countries! It’s hard to imagine – especially since I just ate my first foods last month and I don’t have any teeth. Mama talked to my pediatrician (as you should before giving your baby any new foods) and learned all about Baby Led Weaning.  Turns out I’m not destined to months of jarred baby food! Instead, I can gum my way through softer bits of age-appropriate …

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