Seeing somewhere as home versus destination.
Thank you again for sharing these lectures! Honestly, I feel like they are such an amazing gift to us. I love thinking about these issues around food, destination, travel, tourism . . . so rich and complex. I also loved being brought back to my beloved Mexico City; lord, I love that place. My mind is full of things, but my words are not up to the task, so again, I'll just say 'thanks' and offer my deep appreciation for you and your work. And I FINALLY pre-ordered your book: can't wait :)
Hello! Long time reader, first time commenter. I have so many feelings reading this essay! As a person born in Cuba who grew up in Miami (and still lives here), I have spent my entire life living in and around economies that are dependent tourism. When my family and I left Cuba in the early 2000s, going back to visit was challenging given the restrictions, but the first time we returned, all we could talk about was how much we missed the food (arroz, frijoles, yuca, etc) and the people.
When paladares started taking off in the Obama years, I experienced such a cognitive dissonance because what was being served to us felt so out of touch with the vicisitudes Cubans were and still are facing. There was a part of me that was happy to see these places do well, but there was no question that the prime audience for these restaurants were tourists, not locals. I think a lot about this tension between “upscale” restaurants popping up in Havana while food crises abound.
Reading your work has really changed my perspective on culinary tourism and how I interact and experience new places (and how to be a better local in my own city). Anyway, now I’m rambling, but great work and excited to read your book!
This morning I am considering the idea of a quiet adventure and paying attention wherever I am. From reading your essay/ lecture, I realize that my quiet adventures will be exploring where I live. It isn't a place I love yet, and I think exploring will help me put down roots.
Loved this one. The intro had me reminiscent of the short story 'Last Night at the Lobster' by Stewart O'Nan. Have you read it?
The Air BnB angle is...interesting and disheartening in its potential to displace locals and the whole culinary experience of a destination. Also of interest is their “chef kitchens” collection, enticing vacationers to stay and cook at the residence.
I recently met up with a friend at an Air BnB in Joshua Tree, CA for a potluck weekend of cooking. The home was not part of the gleaming and to me, rather intimidating chef kitchen collection; it was an adorable tribute to mid-century modern decor. Macrame wall hangings, harvest gold appliances, ceramic owls, a record player. Even a wooden bowl on a table-height stand set up for tableside guacamole or Caesar salad. We tested out a bunch of vegan recipes in that retro kitchen, which, although unplanned, managed to capture the vegan/vegetarian vibe of this little artist colony nested in the high desert.
Thanks for the deep insight.
I feel like I get smarter every time I read your writing. Invariably, it takes me a week to get through each one, because I am continually looking up your references and reading them before I come back. For this one, I looked up Derek Walcott, Yvonne Maxwell, Jonathan Gold (whom I am quite familiar with being in L.A. rip), Ana Karina Zatarain, & Hanna Garth. There are still more to look up! Well done!
What a beautiful essay and lesson. This will take some digesting.
I just returned from a Caribbean cruise with my girlfriend, her sister and her sister’s SO. It was their idea that I went along with, despite the misgivings I had about contributing to the tourist machine and knowing that we would only get a few brief, photoshopped glimpses at the cultures of our three destinations. I allowed myself to enjoy the ride, with a grain of salt the size of a pasture salt lick. Nobody wants to be around the person who’s always grousing about the rampant imperialism on display. But the question of what makes a decent meal just hit me like a ton of bricks.
There was a ton of food aboard that ship, food that was constantly being shoveled down our throats, food of varying quality. The bad was very bad - worst oranges I have ever experienced, cakes with grainy meringue frosting, lumpy potatoes - and food that I could tell were a cook’s treat to prepare and present. The moments that made for the most satisfying meals, though, were when humanity barged in and demanded to be recognized - a server impishly piling bread on everyone’s plate, passing a gaggle of teens at a soft-serve machine and seeing a perfectly-dispensed cone, crying out, “Which one of you works at Dairy Queen?” and a girl raising her hand to the cheers of her friends, a handmade tortilla scooping up beans, rice and perfectly seasoned chicken after swimming through Mayan caves. And of course good company and conversation.
I read both articles mentioned in the newsletter: EXCELLENT. I have changed my perspective on being a tourist and am thinking more deeply about travel and tourism because of these “notes” from your class. 🙏🏾
as always, you have introduced me to many writers and readings that seem so exciting, thx so much (again) for this!