I often daydream of sailing to be one passionate dance with the elements of nature. The boat maneuvers through tightly hugging water, it fashionably dips against the wind as the sails flare up and all the while it keeps its eyes fiercely attached and lovingly buoyant to the horizon. The craft of lines (tugged, pulled and then cleated) remain a puzzle to me yet a genius I’m eager to learn. Below deck, a breeze swoops in to flirt with aromas of a feast soon to be had. And it is during this time when I begin to ponder on the thought that when something is really special it will never seize to amaze. This is the finesse of sailing merged with food, urging you to rethink ideas on the Earth and survival.
I started working with the Sailing Collective during the Summer I spent in Europe. My love of cooking for people and my curiosity for the world around us led me to book my first trip. Very quickly I found comfort in the galley and soon after that I was offered to travel to Greece and then to Croatia. In doing so, I got to learn the intricate steps to this new dance. I found appreciation in sharing my cooking with passionate people, learnt about local cuisines and was met with the very exciting challenge of cooking under sail.
When you get the opportunity to travel on the water, you open up your senses in very different ways. Everything is hyper sensorial. Whether it be the sun slicing through water to send golden ripples out to sea or noticing perplexity in somebody’s eyes. These sparks of life remain new, untouched and yet to be discovered.
Another portion of the journey calls for changing your perspective to find reward in the occurrences. It’s sometimes hard to apply yourself in new territory; the language is difficult to grasp, hand gestures and glances speak louder than words and maybe you just want to blend in. But here is this, the encounters that I came across everyday would almost always change my menu and in the end taught me to respect the story as much as the ingredient. Being chef on board, I would only hope that my dishes magnify the importance of local life and offer guests a real immersive experience. I realize that by embracing the role of foreigner you open up a greater conversation. A conversation that slows down the need to rush and one that is dense in meaning rather than words. When speaking with meaning, you’ll never be short of invitation to a toast, a family meal or best yet a minute in the kitchen with the cook. I spent many weeks witnessing this kind of transaction between locals and guests. And it became intrinsic to my love for this kind of travel.
The Mediterranean also taught me things about locality, family tradition and taking my time. Applying this to life on the water, I learnt a thing or two about survival. When you notice someone looking queasy, you arrange a platter of snacks to ease the stomach. When you see the tire on someone’s sun drenched face, you offer water, ice and fruit. When mid ocean swims have left your fellow comrades deplete of vitality, you suggest a feast of the fish you haggled for at the break of dawn. The awareness I learnt to apply alongside my love for people will continue to inspire my love affair with food.
What I think about the Earth now is this: it is intuitive as long as we are listening.
Sitting on the bow of the boat as I have many times before, listening to the might of the wind behind and the strength of the water underneath, I’m reminded of how small I am in a world so big and that nature holds a force much greater than we’ll ever understand. And whilst I continue to tango with the magic of sailing, sharing my love with new friends, I’m finding that the fundamental, top survival plan is to care for one another.
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