I’ve slept in tiny caves with people I’d just met: First 12 miles down a canyon in Utah, adjacent to two wonderful 70 year old twins who were living off the grid and on the lam; and the next — a 5 hour hike up a mountain in Morocco, in the “bedroom” of the teenage daughter of a nomadic family whom we were filming. And I’ve slept in the “sisters” room with all the girls of a wonderful Mennonite family farm, while Daniel slept down the hall in one of the bunk beds with all the boys.
For the last 15 months (since our son was born), we’ve been trying to figure out how we can continue to make this unique work/travel/lifestyle function for our new family. We thought it would be easy… but then we went to a wedding in Florida and experienced life with a mobile little boy in a small hotel room. We quickly realized that our phantasy of schlepping gear and baby on and off the trans-Siberian railroad might have to wait a few years. Shortly after, I went on a couple filming trips for five days each (to Honduras and New England). The combo of missing baby James, and Mirra’s week alone with the baby ruled out the option of just one of us working at a time.
In our absence from posting content lately, we’ve had a lot of wonderful side projects. Perhaps the most rewarding of late (or of all) is this film we made for Equal Exchange. Shot in Honduras and Boston, we followed EE’s coffee supply chain, focusing on the women leaders in each step. Seriously inspiring, please watch if you have 10 minutes. Thanks!
If you are lucky enough to shop at a Coop Grocery Store, you may have seen a logo around that says “P6”. But if you are like me, you weren’t quite sure what it meant. This summer we were asked to make a few videos explaining just that. In case you don’t watch the videos, […]
Mirra and I just finished our last trip of the planned itinerary with Intrepid Travel (videos will be coming out through July). Over the past year and a half we’ve been lucky enough to visit 14 countries. Before we left, there were warnings of theft, sickness, anti-Americanism, violence, you know the drill… fear. I’m very happy to say that none of those things happened to us. I know they do happen, but they happen everywhere, in Minneapolis and in Cape Town, in Mumbai and in Tuscany. But people have a shift in mentality when they leave their own country, they think that they need to buy pants that are more breathable, and a special wallet that goes under their belt, and to bring all sorts of pills they would normally never take. They forget — I often forget — that these travel locations are just another place on earth where a million or a billion people live there lives; where their kids go to school; where they eat the street food that looks clean; where they know not to walk alone down a back alley at night; where their neighbors are looking out for them.
Now, despite my job (where I document food), anyone who knows me knows that I would prefer a huge bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce eaten in sweatpants on the couch over a 10 course tasting menu any day. But I also know that dinner at one of these restaurants is an art form, and being able to experience it is something that makes me very lucky. When you take in a painting, you want to understand what the artist was thinking, what was behind each piece. The same happens when you see a beautifully plated and thoughtfully created dish. And when someone presents me with produce from their chef’s own garden, hand picks and de-shells each individual pea, and (what I can only assume is) kisses it before putting it onto my plate… you have to take notice. The dishes at Etxebarri were delicious, delicate and made me kick myself that I didnt like vegetables until last year. It is so good that Daniel (you know, that popular meat eater from the beginning of the post) even recommended one of our meat loving friends to pose as a vegetarian when coming to Etxebarri for an upcoming meal.
My first time on an 8 seater propeller plane was this past summer during our trip to Martha’s vineyard. It’s one of those planes where, at the airport as part of the boarding process, the attendant asks you how much you weigh in order to assess which part of the death trap you will inhabit for those 45 terrifying minutes. Since I am prone to vomiting at the slightest hint of motion, and have a thing about not going on planes where death is a real option, this wasnt my idea of a good time. Also, due to my weight class (extra small) I was seated in the way back. But we were heading to “the vineyard” to attend a friend’s wedding (Daniel was cooking at the event and I was filming), so I thought — even if this tiny plane runs out of gas in the middle of the ocean, bursts into flames and we all plunge to our deaths before being swallowed by a fish or hit by a submarine — hey, at least we tried to get there.
This summer I had the good fortune of taking a trip with a team of Equal Exchange employees to middle of nowhere Peru. The middle of nowhere was Bahuaja-Sonene Naitonal Park and the coffee growing towns that surround this protected area. To get to our starting point, we took two planes followed by a 12 hour drive (some of it at 14,000 feet). From there, shorter trips of hours of driving and hours of walking up hill topped off this grueling travel. The trip to Peru wasn’t quite as glamorous as it initially seemed. But after filming a woman wheel a 50lb bag of coffee 6 miles down a mountain, all complaints were off. If there is one lesson I was reminded of on this trip, it was the undeniable fact that coffee is hard work. Watch these videos to come along on the adventure and see what goes into each cup of coffee you drink.
Our latest video about Seed Saving, Farmer Suicides and Monsanto has gotten quite a lot of positive reaction. Thank you. But an online friend brought up some thought provoking points and interesting questions that touched on issues that I’ve long been grappling with. He thought the piece was an attack on Monsanto, which although it may be justified, is not consistent with The Perennial Plate’s dialogue-encouraging films. After some deliberation he asked, “How is it that you finally decide the way your story will be told?”
We are very excited to announce our new partnership with Tastemade and Youtube. At the start of our world tour they invited us to create some cooking videos for them and to share our content. Since we focus our attention on Vimeo, we thought it would be great to have someone spreading the word on youtube. Also, we felt that we had lost some of the cooking aspect of the show in our international travels and wanted to make sure we got spend some time cooking the food we were eating and learning about. So “In the Kitchen” arm of The Perennial Plate has been born. On top of all that, we get a lot of comments like “why isn’t Mirra in the show more?” — She is shy and usually tries to stay off camera, but I’ve convinced her to let a third camera capture the filmmaking process, which usually entails me messing up in the kitchen and her making fun of me….