19 Sep 2014

la boqueria + an ode to food: the thing that nourishes us, binds us, sustains us

IMG_8016IMG1231

You learn about a country by eating its food. And I’m not talking about the starred Michelin restaurants and hosts who stand for hours on end clutching menus–all in hopes that you’ll be seduced enough by their calls of pasta! pizza! paella! to come through–rather, I’m talking about putting on comfortable shoes and weaving your way through frenetic markets. I’m talking about how to ask for vegetables in grams and kilos as opposed to ounces and pounds. You fall in love with a country when you can see it through the eyes of the people who breathe its air every day, who treasure cuts of meat that make others writhe in disgust. Notice how people talk about their food, how they prepare it and preserve it. Ask them, even if you can never imagine eating lamb testicles or tripe, how they season it (dried or fresh herbs, encrusted in a brick layer of salt?), when they eat it (holiday, family gathering, a quick shoveling between their two jobs) and with which foods they pair it. Suddenly, two people are not one and the other, but they’re two halves of one whole because they’re talking about the thing that sustains them, nourishes them, that thing being food.

Whenever I land in a country, I immediately seek out its markets. I’ll learn simple phrases about the weight and cost of food. I’ll watch locals pick over the produce, the way they organize their bounty, and their gentle, or in some countries, brusque, art of negotiation. In Provence, market proprietors treat their wares as if they were high finery and the negotiations are informed, respectful. In Cambodia, stall owners often sleep under their stalls because the journey home is too exhausting and expensive. In Taichung, buyers bark their orders and negotiate to an extreme, but still there is this informal mutual understanding of respecting pride and face. Watching the art of food commerce and conversation, in this way, I’m the other, an interloper intruding a private space. It’s only when I move past observation and curiosity to participate that I feel as if I’m actually part of the country, its rhythms, ebb and flow. I’ve become part of the exchange that binds people, and I leave a country with a deeper, more meaningful understanding of how people eat, how they live.

I love Spain. I feel very attached to Barcelona. Maybe it’s because Spanish is one of the few languages I understand well and speak decently. Or maybe because their ham is aged for 5 years while prosciutto is aged for 18 months. Or perhaps it’s the fat, violet figs and curved cubes of coconut that issue their siren call, but never have I loved a market as much as La Boqueria. Once a church located outside of the walls of Barcelona, free from the King’s tax and protection, La Boqueria became a humble trading place for the poor, and now it’s the largest open market in Europe. Here you’ll find spices, scores of artisanal and simple sweets, cuts of fish I’ve never seen, and the innards of animals in all their rich, sanguine glory. Maybe I should have visited the Picasso Museum, but instead I keep coming back to the market, the simple symphony of food and the people who adore it, need it.

Today I booked one of the best tours I’ve taken to date, with Food & Wine Tours. The tour was billed as a 3-hour tapas tour, but it was so much more. Our exceptional tour (with the exceedingly knowledgeable and kind, Nico, who made a point to accommodate my gluten & dairy sensitivities) started at the market, but over the course of over four hours, we stumbled upon a wedding, a Ukrainian opera singer, whose voice will make you shudder and weep, and hot chocolate so thick you need a spoon to consume it. We wove in and out of back streets and alleyways from La Rambla to the Gothic Quarter, and ate our weight in tapas and pinchos. Food somehow opened a window for our small group to talk about politics, money, children, our respective homelands, and it allowed us to laugh at the Catalan holiday tradition of caga tiÓ. Have you heard of this? Brief parenthetical. You will appreciate this.

IMG_8060IMG1231
IMG_8062IMG1231

In Catalan, but not in all of Spain, there is no Santa Claus. However, there is caga tiÓ, a shitting uncle/log. Yes, shit. As the story goes, families wished for fertilizer so that they would have abundant crops. Crops meant money, food, and comfort for the family. So children were taught over time to “beat the shit” out of a log for abundance. Three hundred years ago this would’ve meant fertile land, but now it’s a shitting Shakira, a Hello Kitty that poops pink—now, it’s children surrounding a log with sticks in hopes that beating it will “poop out” sweets, toys and the like. Abundance of a different kind, I guess.

Food opens every door, and I can’t help but think that my tour tonight wasn’t just about tapas, it was a journey through a few streets in Barcelona but in a way that I hadn’t previously experienced. The story started with a meal you held in your hands and morphed into a virgin who survived thirteen martyrs, the precarious Spanish economy (how does cutting education and healthcare in this world of European austerity make any sense?!), and a brief conversation with Nico about how having a seven-month-year-old daughter changed him in ways he never conceived. Food creates a sort of intense intimacy, and when I came back to my apartment and surfed the web to find people cataloging their possessions instead of cultivating new experiences, of feeling their connections, seeing the world, I sometimes feel that I speak a different language with those who live in my own country. Sometimes I feel subsumed by people who so assiduously seek to acquire and consume objects rather than creating, building our own private house, brick by brick.

Isn’t that what we should desire: compulsive curiosity instead of casual complacency and obsessive acquisition? In the past twenty years my travels have brought me to Russia, Thailand, Bali, Spain, Fiji, France, Italy, England, Prague, Cambodia, China, Australia, Mexico, Denmark, Belgium, Korea, Ireland, and India, and I feel richer for it. Even when I feel there is so much more I need to learn. When you cultivate honor and respect for something as fundamental as how someone eats, you see them as human, a deviation from your familiar, but human nonetheless, and that base level of compassion somehow extends itself to the larger divides that previously seemed impenetrable. While I’m not saying that food will solve the world’s problems, undo religious wars and political divides, I am proposing that we find small ways to see the human frailty in others; we cultivate empathy. So while people might shriek over the first picture at the beginning of this post–wild gooseneck barnacles, which are an expensive delicacy in Spain–I was captivated by the risk people take with their lives to farm these particular breed of barnacles, which are not affixed to harbor ships and rocks, instead they’re in roiling surf in certain seas. I also had to smile as I’ve developed a strange obsession to barnacles, an image I’ve been using a lot in my novel to signify unhealthy attachment. So while I may not want to get a sack of these, I can appreciate and respect those who will pay a princely sum to feast on these crustaceans.

Tomorrow I leave Barcelona for Granada, Seville and Cordoba, and I can’t wait to plant my bags and wander through Andalusian markets!

IMG_7988IMG1231
IMG_7993IMG1231
IMG_7994IMG1231
IMG_7995IMG1231
IMG_8001IMG1231
IMG_8013IMG1231
IMG_8019IMG1231
IMG_8021IMG1231
IMG_8034IMG1231
IMG_8045IMG1231
IMG_8056IMG1231
IMG_8065IMG1231
ÍñäéJeÐ RÔ|9¹¶GMyokgY§":)bhðD¥hb+(µ½1~®å@;(fî22Ý1Ù¤ùCVîbøÓz-q</½¶ÓooÖâÛETøâ`PÑ·èi<ókTÓmmo-n?®RXëñ¯á4rH3®¸yVÙG½;VTÐ0óìE»%ѧÏ86ËfÁ±;¢-|xýAÇö1G;sÉÚmVXÛÖáYQ@¦ÝQ_ø×ĺÎ@òzWµYSY³¶#áJØý9G,±+ÿ24¯Nh0±ÎX·S'§&Vþl о{¶éwÛéÙÍë§ú̵²w5èÌ®ÄP:æ0ã¯ârÈ<7ü/Kü«"ÓE61È~Uój~éÔ~

IMG_8069IMG1231
IMG_8074IMG1231

IMG_8032IMG1231

3 Comments

  1. jenny wrote:

    I miss barcelona so much looking at your photos!! I have been following your blog a long time… and love the food journey you have been on. Keep it up!

    Posted on 9.19.14 · Reply to comment
    • Thanks, Jenny! I’m so humbled to hear that my photos have so such a wonderful effect. 🙂 Warmly, Felicia

      Posted on 9.20.14 · Reply to comment

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instagram

  • Do the thing that chills you down to the bone. I keep saying this like it’s a sermon, a song, and it’s taken me to places I couldn’t have ever imagined.
.
I moved to Los Angeles nearly three years because I need to get lost, uncomfortably so, so I could find myself, scrubbed and renewed. And these three years have been some of the hardest I’ve known, but also humbling, exhilarating, and clarifying. In my search for quiet and calm, I could finally hear myself. And when you hear, you start to listen to what you want versus what the world tells you to want. And that’s when the magic happens.
.
This year, I made a point of serving women and the marginalized. I got tired of making white men richer; the rest of us deserve the sky too. And in that work, I got further clarity on what else I wanted. I wanted to work with women my age to help them define their second acts. Moving from success to significance, now that we’re more conscious of the fact that we have fewer years ahead of us. Morbid, I know, but recognizing time as the most valuable thing we have has a way of making us surgical about our wants.
.
Today, I closed on a project with a peer and good friend. She’s a successful entrepreneur who wanted to reshape her business to be more of a purpose-driven one. I feel humbled that she trusted me with her vulnerability. She told me she was buying clarity and perspective. I gave her that and a framework. Before I left, she hugged me and told me she had a plan. That the road ahead was clear, structured and achievable. And damn that felt good.
.
I’m in a Lyft on the 101 and I feel good. Strong. Confident. Sometimes I hate that I’m in my 40s, but it’s times like these when I’m grateful for the years. I’ve been through it all and I have perspective, knowledge, experience, and the kind of calm age breeds. I can’t even imagine what I’ll know in 10 years, 20
.
And it feels really fucking good to lift another woman up.
.
.
.
.
#realtalk #businesscoaching #storyteller #lifelessons #weekendvibes #thehustleisreal #femtrepreneur #entrepreneur #risingtidesociety
  • Four years ago, when this photo was taken, I attempted a return to my yoga practice. I practiced every nearly every day from 2001-2009, but then I stopped. When I tried again in 2014, I was ready to reassume the shapes I knew, physically, but I wasn’t prepared for how this practice changes you if you allow it. The practice makes you a humble student. It’s not about the asana. It’s about your work off the mat.
✨
My teacher once told me the mark of an advanced practitioner is not the yogi kicking up into handstand. That’s ego. Rather, it’s the yogi who goes to a basics class to relearn the poses as if she’s encountered them for the first time. That’s the practice. The work.
✨
At 42, this is the work I try to do every single day.
.
.
.
.
.
#yoga #yogaposes #yogaeverydamnday #wednesdaywisdom #risingtidesociety #lifelessons #dothework
  • Do the thing that chills you down to the bone. I’ve been thinking about time a lot, as well as ambition.
.
When I was young, I was hungry. I was aggressive and relentlessly ambitious to the point of being myopic. I had to prove something to the world, myself, perhaps my mother, and I needed to collect these totems or the signifiers of success.
.
But there comes a point when you shift from desiring success to significance. The shift is imperceptible, but it happens because you start to be aware of time and the fact that you have fewer years ahead than behind. That realization is potent and frightening because death takes it all, strips us of ourselves and we return to that from which we’ve come. We can’t cart along our trophies and bank accounts and handbags to the afterlife. Those things have been reduced to dust and they no longer have any meaning.
.
You start thinking about time and its value. Am I squandering it? Investing in it? Living it? Breathing through it.
.
I’m frightened of death and the irony that I wanted to take my own life two years ago doesn’t escape me. I don’t have faith that could hold my hand and guide me through and out of the dark. I simply believe there’s nothing and this life is the one true thing I know of.
.
Suddenly success morphs into significance because you start to do the math and wonder what you’ve done in this one beautiful life that will leave its mark. Maybe we’ll all be forgotten. Maybe we’ll leave indelible prints that linger. I don’t know.
.
What I do know is that the definition of success is elusive. Just when you think you have it, it changes form. And the things I wanted five, ten years ago aren’t that which I desire now. There’s want, but it’s a different kind of want. There’s the want of designing a life that’s conscious, graceful, impactful, curiosity-driven, and remarkable.
.
I sat down with a peer today and she trusted me as a marketer, and as someone at her level who could lend perspective. She has the tools, it’s just a matter of me being her guide and telling her that she alone can grant herself permission to shift her business and change her life.
  • When you’re trying to get WORK done and your pet is back on their bullshit.
.
Who has a little one (pet, baby, cactus) they play with during the day to keep sane?
.
.
.
.
#catstagram #tabbycat #thehustleisreal #freelancer #mondaymotivation #femtrepreneur #hussy #hussycats #imtryingtowork
  • My mother had died a year ago and this wasn’t about her. My pain exceeded her. I was in new terrain — a dark country to which I’d emigrated yet it was foreign to me. This wasn’t like the darkness of before, this was a fresh hurt. A ground that had given way beneath my feet and the fall felt bottomless. There existed no end to it. There was only the enormity of the hurt and its persistence. I woke to it. I carried the weight of it. I fell asleep to it. Even now I couldn’t meet my friend in the day because the light had become an assault.
.
You don’t understand, I said. This is constant. Again with the blank stare. The discomfort and confusion. I had created a ripple, a disturbance in one place. I was no longer the fun friend who cracked jokes and entertained her for years. I had become something other.
.
All I wanted was for her, for anyone, to say: I love you. I’m here for you. Tell me, what can I do?
.
Have you thought about going back to yoga? she asked, signaling for the check. This is just a slump. You’ll snap out of it. You’ll see.
.
It was if a curtain had fallen over our table and the room had gone black.
.
I wrote about depression. HIT THE LINK IN PROFILE AND CLAP YOUR HEART OUT.
.
#realtalk #depression #mentalhealth #femtrepreneur #entrepreneur #ladyboss #tbt #reallife #risingtidesociety #thehustle
  • ‪BIG NEWS. I’m piloting a 6-week group coaching course that covers how to validate your business concept and model, build your brand (story, positioning, benefits, message, voice and tone) and find/connect with your ideal customer.
.
While there's a lot of garbage and woo phonies out there, I'm serving up the real deal. Who am I? I've published two books, built a $20MM company, and have worked with world-class brands and brilliant start-ups. I know how to tell stories.
.
So, I'm launching a course that will focus on how to:
.
🎈Define your brand and difference.
🎈Create a voice and style that's all your own--in everything from your writing to your fonts and photography.
🎈Get laser-focused on who your customer is and how to go after them.
🎈Write copy that puts your customer's heart on pause.
.

If you're a small business owner or freelancer building their business or looking to build (or re-invent) your career through your brand, this is for you. This is for people who are tired of jargon and want the answers they need in plain old English. This is for people who are tired of the disappointing free downloads and courses taught by people who haven't achieved what they're hocking. This is for people who don't want to just color outside of the lines but want to torch the damn coloring book.
.
Beta @ $1500. Weekly live sessions, hot seats, Slack group, weekly challenges, worksheets, tutorials. Ping me if you’re interested. contact@phoebeandkate.co
.
.
.
.
#onlinecoaching #onlineclasses #brandstrategy #brandstrategist #thehustle #femtrepreneur #girlboss #marketing #storyteller #groupclass #wednesdaywisdom
  • What a magical, yummy time at @smorgasburgla. The vibe is SO different from NY. Fewer chef personalities. More home cooks and small businesses. Incredible ethnic food and such a cool energy all around.
.
.
.
.
#weekendvibes #sundayfunday #smorgasburg #foodporn #foodstagram #food52 #instayum #tacos #arepas
  • Part of being a consultant is self-care. Now this isn’t about fancy candles and spending piles of money. This is about managing stress, anxiety, and the crippling self doubt we feel when we go at it alone.
✨
My self-care is all about meditation, medication, yoga, walking to clear my head and get the creative juices flowing, not taking on crazy clients, saying no, having me time and doing the thing that gives me calm—cook.
✨
For years I published a food blog, lovelifeeat.com where I documented thousands of dishes I made, baked, and ate.
✨
While I’m no longer feeling the blogging vibe and I had to hock the fancy camera, I’m back to cooking yummy food.
✨
And eating it, natch.
✨
What’s your self-care regimen?
✨
✨
✨
#clementinedaily #delish #eeeeats #eeeeeats #weekendvibes #sundayfunday #food52 #food52 #foodstagram #healthyeats #selfcare #thehustleisreal #femaleentrepreneur #instayum #yahoofood #buzzfeedfood #eatingwell #storyteller

Follow Me!