Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin
Local author brings many cuisines to the page
Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin
Sasha Martin spent every week for nearly four years traveling the world and cooking up a storm—without ever leaving her kitchen.
Martin writes the nationally recognized blog Global Table Adventure, in which she tells the world’s story through food. During her 195-week adventure (and with the help of her young daughter, Ava, and her husband, Keith aka “Mr. Picky”) she visited different countries—culinarily speaking, that is.
She focused on recipes “that moms make all around with world with toddlers hanging on their shirts—not super weird, but always interesting.” She photographed the food herself and included pictures of the country of origin—as close to a scratch-and-sniff geography lesson as one could get.
Once the project ended, however, Martin kept up the delicious work and now her blog is focused on a year of global celebrations—which will include the Filipino Harvest Festival, Ethiopian New Year and Latin American Day of the Dead. Her blog is worth reading, however, for the pure prose and gorgeous photography alone.
Martin’s newest project has been a labor of love. In March, National Geographic is publishing her first book, Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness. In it, Martin touches on memories of her childhood, and the loss and heartbreak that came with it.
“I had one simple task when I started writing Life From Scratch,” says Martin. “To chronicle my adventure to eat a meal from every country in the world with my picky husband and baby girl, all from our small kitchen in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But looming over the simple narrative of how I set out to cook the world, one burning question remained: why?”
“The more I dug into this question, the more I realized that my four-year, 195-country culinary obsession was rooted in something much deeper. As I wrote, the story quickly took on a life of its own.”
Save the date for a book launch party with Booksmart Tulsa, on March 3 at 7pm at Retro Den Tulsa (1216 S. Harvard, 918.794.7118). Visit BooksmartTulsa.com for more details.
The following is an excerpt and recipe from Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin:
“It must have been midnight when I padded from my warm bedroom to that dark kitchen. I could almost hear the walls around me creak, brittle against the press of cold air. By now the snow was done falling. I couldn’t see five feet into the yard, and yet a universe away the stars shone clearly. The shrouded planet felt at once enormous and much, much too small.
I stood barefoot on the kitchen tiles, thinking about why my kitchen had fallen into disuse. Sure, Keith was picky, and at 7 months old, Ava was barely eating solid food. But there was something more. I pulled open the spice drawer and held one of the empty jars to the dim light. In it, I saw my childhood—Mom’s improvisation, Patricia’s determination, and the 12 countries that fed me: France, world famous for pastries, tarragon sauce, and lacy lavender; Greece, known for thick yogurt topped with golden pools of honey; Tunisia, where the markets burst with baskets of spices so heady the scent lingered on my clothes for days.
Marcel Proust, the 20th-century novelist, knew how easy it is to bring the past to life: When he bit into a tea-soaked madeleine, the shadows of his childhood took on color, snapping into full dimension. If I put the right ingredients in my spice jars, I realized, they’d be portals to that bygone era.
My thoughts turned to all the countries I hadn’t been to yet, to all the exotic foods I had yet to experience. What would it be like if I could fit this uncharted world in those jars, if I could use them to season my future? Perhaps I could bypass Proust and enjoy a madeleine of my own making.
Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. I ran to the bedroom and shook Keith’s shoulder.
“I’m going to cook the world!” I exclaimed.
“What time is it?” he said, lifting his head from the pillow and squinting
“Recipes from every single country!” I gushed. “One per week—I’ll start a blog!” While he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, I explained that I wanted to help him learn to love new foods, become less picky—that, together, we could raise our daughter with an appreciation of other cultures. I could wake this kitchen up and hopefully quell some of my wanderlust. And then there was the reason I could not yet give voice to: I could begin the next chapter of my life afresh. Little did I know that it would be nearly impossible to separate my history from the future I wanted to create.”