A Reflection on Food and Travel (and a shitty 2016)
Last weekend AA Gill died. If you’re not familiar with AA Gill’s work, think traveller, eater and writer extraordinaire. Gill wrote for The Sunday Times and was famous for pissing people off. He was also dyslexic but had an amazing capacity to communicate with the written word. He was only 62. The big “C” got him. And as a friend on Facebook said in response, “Seriously 2016, fuck you.” Reading through the commentary following his death one of the clear themes that ran through AA Gill’s life was a love of food and travel. And luckily for us his gift of writing enabled him to share this love with us all.
One quote of Gill’s that struck a particular chord with me was this, “Most people in the world can’t travel anywhere and have a terrible, terrible time when they do travel. But us (British and Australian), we can. And not to do it seems to be the most sinful waste of an opportunity.”
(Credit to Max Veenhuyzen’s Broadsheet article for this quote.)
As 2016 draws to a close I reflect on these words and find in them great meaning.
I don’t think there are many people out there who can say that 2016 wasn’t a particularly dismal year. Even if your personal life moved forwards in leaps and bounds, the state of the world as it stands in December 2016 is as bad as I can ever recall. And whilst I’m not usually a pessimist, both the sheer number of miserable events and the range that they cover leads me to believe the world is spinning slightly off its axis. I mean seriously;
Need I go on?
And yet, I see hope. For me it has been travel and food, and I’m not sure which was first, that have bestowed upon me the untold opportunities to see life through different eyes. In my experience the travel has been pretty far and wide. That doesn’t have to be the case though.
Whether you live in Singapore, London or Wagga Wagga, you don’t have to go far to see that people can live a very different life to your own. In Wagga it might be a case of visiting Sydney. Seeing that harbour for the first time. Or heading to King’s Cross and noticing that there are people who actually have to beg for a living. In London it might be heading up to Bedlington (outside Newcastle) and going to watch a band at a working men’s club. In Singapore taking a ferry to Pulau Ubin will instantly transport you to another age. Travelling almost anywhere can offer you insights into otherwise unknown worlds. And, if we are open to it, 99.9% of the time we walk away with a positive experience.
What I particularly love about the combination of food and travel is that it’s what everyone does. Rich or poor, dark or light skinned, old or young, gay or straight, or anything in between. We all sit down and eat. And when we sit side by side, on a dirty pavement eating street food, or in a fancy-pants restaurant in New York, food is what brings us together. It creates a level playing field. And yes, I am lucky enough to have access to a vast array of eating experiences, but I’m no better or worse than the person sitting beside me in any of them.
I love much of the world we live in and I truly believe that food and travel can help to broaden the experiences of everybody to make it a place we can also be proud of. Here’s to 2017 being a year of travel and experience that enriches us and makes the world a better place.
I promise I’ll get my posts back on track next week. Please feel free to share your own thoughts on the year in the comments, or by emailing if you’re too shy 😉
Big kisses to all of you out there, share the love and keep eating and travelling. xxx