September 05, 2005

Labor Day Reading

Since it was the Labor Day weekend, no labor for me. The book I've been reading for the last several days ends simultaneously along with the holiday weekend and the summer.

I thought Linda Ellerbee's Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table was a good read. Having reached her 60th birthday, the author reflects on growing older and looks back on where her journey through life has taken her so far.

She may be a transplanted Texan, but I sense that Texas remains within her. I recognize this because the humor with which she writes feels comfortable, something you miss when you're not around other Texans. There was something to make me laugh out loud in every chapter.

She reminisces with individual stories that are focused on places she's been, the people she's met and the food that she ate while she was there. It's a book comprised of what I call "food memories."

I didn't find it strange that she could recall whether or not she ordered onions on her enchiladas as a child, some 40-odd years ago, perhaps because I saw in her writing a bit of a kindred spirit. Food plays a huge part in many of my own travel destinations and memories.

The book also strikes a chord within me as I've been doing a bit of reflecting of my own lately. I wonder how my life would have been different if I had had the courage/foresight/ability to go on my own to a foreign country when I was 18 years old like she did. Or even across the United States from the Texas Gulf Coast to newer horizons like California or New York. Is it too late to start now? After reading her book, I think that perhaps it's not.

It makes me wonder about the Hurricane Katrina evacuees and how many of them will find their lives taking new, unexpected direction because of their being abruptly uprooted to a place far from home. How chance and misfortune might possibly be turned into opportunity--how many of them might find that proverbial window that opens when a door closes. How something positive might come from something so negative.

"Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill. But since we're on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride..."

There are a few recipes included in the book, usually at least one with each story. My mouth was watering over the Cream of Garlic Soup and Tzatzki and I was ready to whip out my pots and pans. But no labor in the kitchen this weekend either, because the stove's on the blink. The recipes will have to wait until the GE repairman arrives.



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