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What's cooking ? A world tour of kitchens... backstage !
Ingredients, utensils, watching and learning how food is being prepared, by helping in the kitchen. What is the basic food item ? Bread, unleavened like a tortilla such as the Saharian "taggela", cooked directly in the sand under a fire; rice, millet or banana, etc... Culinary traditions and customs.
Wherever we are, we want to grasp something of the local everyday life and thanks to this "door opener", we mean to be something more than just guests from a developed country. This gives Martine the opportunity to meet women on their turf, in countries where they are not often seen outside their homes.
Since everyday cooking is quite different from its elaborate version, we will go and meet with a local chef, wherever this is possible. And why not, in large cities, go and say hello to a French cuisine cook, to find out how it is adapted to local tastes and to available ingredients.
We will bring back new culinary ideas, recipes, anecdotes and, whenever allowed to do so, pictures or videos.
Departure date was set for December 31, 2004, to coincide with the anniversary of our encounter, 20 years ago. But fate has decided otherwise...
Who are we?
First major experiences in a foreign country: born and raised in the UK, he spends his summers in Italy at his grandparents'. At 12, he wins a contest organized by French Television, and goes to Africa with a team shooting a documentary series on wildlife. Eager to continue his travelling experience, at 17 he goes to the North Cape, hitchhiking.
At 46, Robert decides to put away his High Tech dark suit as befitting his role of General Manager to release his longing for less travelled roads. After having experienced nomadism at work, mostly in Europe and also in the US, he trades his "company motor bike" for a vehicle designed for adventure.
He is in charge of preparing and maintaining the Land Rover, a job where his engineering studies and his "Mac Gyver" creativity come in handy. He has a knack for establishing rapport, a good sense of humor and tenacity, which along with his sales experience are great assets at borders or in other situations involving any kind of negotiations...
A serious fisherman, Robert is quite knowledgeable in earth sciences, and is also a competent photographer. He is always ready for adventure and has a true gift for unlikely encounters. Energetic and very determined, he does not scare easily, apart from computers when time consuming glitches occur! As to cooking, his first talent is his nose: he is capable of identifying the ingredients involved in a dish. Martine finds it fun to challenge his nose with new smells, especially spices.
He speaks French, English, Italian, Spanish and survival Finnish. Especially for this project, he has learned the Arabic and Cyrilic alphabets, which are quite useful to decipher local maps and road signs.
First major experiences in foreign countries: spends her early years in Northern Africa. At 13, she travels in Greece, and the following summers in the Netherlands and Turkey. At 18, she spends one year in the US with AFS to live with a family and graduate from high school. She returns to the US to complete her college education and has maintained strong ties ever since, especially with her foreign family.
At 45, Martine leaves behind a job as a headhunter, but keeps her people skills at hand, to decipher interactions. As a consultant in international management, she had further developed her communication skills when dealing with intercultural situations.
She is gifted for languages and has a knack for picking up phrases and expressions which are useful door openers. She speaks French, English, Spanish, is capable of communicating in Italian and German and has recently started studying Russian. A proficient information searcher, very organized, she is in charge of administrative matters and logistics en route.
A history and art buff, her interest for cultural sites and cities drags Robert's focus away from his favored open spaces. Careful and wary of physical danger, she offers a healthy balance to her partner's enthusiasm... Martine has a passion and a talent for French and other cuisines, and is serious about expanding her knowledge. She loves to share her discoveries... and to pass them on.
Martine and Robert...
In this project, we share the following activities, because interchangeability is an important aspect of our relationship:
- driving our Land Rover, on and off roads
- mechanical checkups everyday
- photo processing and management, writings
- itineraries, piloting and orienteering
- during the preparation phase, contacts and followup with partnering sponsors.
We will mention tolerance, friendship with other peoples, being useful and sharing. But since we are among those who apply to themselves the principle according to which actions speak louder than words, here are a few examples of how we conduct our values in our lives: Martine has done volunteer work with AFS for 25 years, to show her gratitude and make it possible for other young people to go and meet other cultures, as her contribution to a better understanding between peoples.
Partly because we did not have children ourselves, we financially support children in underdeveloped countries, and thus became in Vietnam Le Thi Nô's godmother and godfather, through a French charity called "Enfants du Mekong".
Closer to home, we help and support during a job search not only our friends, but also their children or friends, and anybody sent to us for help in this matter: so far, over 50 people have come and gone.
Ethics and ecological awareness, although more difficult to illustrate through specific examples, are other concepts which are also quite important to us.
You can leave us a message at the address below, and we will read it within a few weeks, during our next stop at an Internet cafe. It may be after some time in the desert, so please be patient and thank you for your understanding!
Because our mailbox has a limited capacity and because we cannot visit and empty it frequently, please make sure NOT TO ATTACH any files. Due to space constraints, we had to install filters which would destroy your messages, if they came with an attachment.
Also, please be kind to us and DO NOT PUT OUR ADDRESS IN YOUR ELECTRONIC ADDRESS BOOK, so as to protect us from spam and viruses. Moreover, an infected message would unfortunately make us lose contact with you: once altered by a suspicious message, filters would automatically destroy all following messages without our knowing you are trying to contact us.
Thirdly, please fill the subject line with %%% and a phrase we can recognize as coming from you, it will help us differentiate your message from spam.
Here is our main address:
And one last recommendation: please send us your news, and not jokes, as it is you that we miss... and your messages will be shorter to load and read.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.