Today’s post is again not directly about Ukraine, but it does pertain to traveling and adventuring around the world. For my 22nd birthday this June, my brother got me a book called Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World (click the title to purchase at Amazon.com — all royalties help send children from Indian slums to vocational schools in New Delhi). The author, Rita Golden Gelman, took off on her adventures as an adult, after her kids were grown and she got divorced. But that’s not really the point. Her first book, Tales of a Female Nomad, talks about her early adventures as a single woman traveling the world (I haven’t read it, I just learned this stuff from the introduction of Female Nomad and Friends).
Anyway, Female Nomad and Friends, as Gelman says on her website, is a collection of short stories from 41 authors (all but two are women) about connecting around the world. Interspersed throughout the book are 32 recipes from around the world. Stories and food: my brother knows me well! (Another note on connection: anyone who’s read my Oberlin honors thesis knows that it was all about connection — this seems to be a theme in my life!). Have just tried two of the recipes — chapati and Swedish Kladdkaka (chocolate cake) — and they are both delicious.
I’m almost finished with the book after only a day, and it’s wonderful. Stories come from all kinds of women, from professional writers to Peace Corps Volunteers (like I’m about to be!) to just plain adventurers. There are tales about crossing language and cultural barriers (or not, as the case may be), and about the kindness and generosity of so many people around the world (and the recipes look delicious — I can’t wait to try some!). It really inspires me as I prepare to set off on my own journey. It also recalls Julie Taymor’s speech at my Oberlin Commencement this past May — her main message was, be flexible and don’t set a time limit on anything.
I recommend this book to any and all people who like to travel, whether or not you’re a woman. Short stories are great for a short attention span, and you won’t be able to put it down. And on another literary note, my first Ukrainian reading project arrived today: Anna Reid’s Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine, which many Peace Corps/Ukraine Volunteers recommend. More on Ukraine soon!