Towns / Cities Visited: 104
Countries Visited: 20
Steps Taken Today: 17,723
Steps Taken Around the World: 2,914,704
Checking out from our Airbnb we hopped into the car and began our two or so hour journey across Wales towards one of the large national parks which protect the natural beauty of this part of the world; Pembrokeshire. With warm sunshine brightening the day, and blue skies dotted with the odd innocent looking cloud overhead, it was the perfect day for exploring, what we like to call, Old South Wales. As we made our way towards the lazily lapping azure waves of the south coast of the country, it suddenly became a lot more obvious as to how New South Wales garnered its name. Despite the general assumption that Wales, and the rest of the UK for that matter, is home to dreary weather, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves parking our car beside a pebbled beach rimmed bay, with tiny leisure boats bobbing cheerfully in its safety, and stepping out to a day which wouldn’t be out of place at the most worshipped of Australian beaches. This quaint little town, named Dale, would be the location for our lunch and a hike along its picturesque coast, and with that, we made our way to the tiny cafe which looks out over the bay. Nothing could make this scene more textbook than the addition of some fresh fish and chips, and thus we heartily obliged.
With our bellies full, we happily made our way outside to begin our walk. The beautiful circuit that runs from the town, passes through a stunning tunnel of greenery, through which you can continually catch glimpses of the bay. Eventually the trees give way to an avenue of brambles providing a prickly deterrent against edging too close to the cliffs which drop down to the sea below. Following the path we found ourselves winding our way down through yet more vine covered forest to a tiny secluded beach. Taking a moment, we drank in the beauty and silence of this hidden paradise. The remainder of the trail wound through the fern filled forest, alongside a babbling brook, until we crossed a few undulating fields and found ourselves back at our car.
The day was still young, and thus we decided to make our way to a nearby town to fit in another walk before we made our way to our accommodation, and a short drive found us in St. Ishmaels. By town, I of course mean more of a collection of farms, and parking that involved leaving the car on a small grassy area at the roadside. Despite the somewhat rural location, we headed off along the track we had found online. This one hour circuit, once again, took us along more blackberry bordered cliffs, and lush mossy forest which cradles the road in its arms. We even passed an old lime kiln, crumbling and abandoned; a haunting reminder of centuries past.
The sun was sinking lower, and picking up some groceries, we made the journey to our accommodation for the night. We found ourselves staying in the home of a wonderfully friendly couple, and after making a hearty stew, we sat at the table with them, chatting long into the night. You see they are both chefs, and the conversation came easily. Discussions about anything and everything in the industry, and the differences between our training given that our respective educations were carried out half a world, and about four decades, apart.
As I reflected on the conversations while I searched for sleep, I took a moment to consider both the constant nature, and the juxtapose changeability of cooking over the millennia. Some things never change, and the importance of cooking in every country’s culture and traditional cuisine across the continents seems to be an immortal part of life, regardless of how many generations come and go. By the same token, as science and technology progresses the culinary industry grows; it transitions; it improves. Suddenly we have classic dishes being made in different ways; we have traditional flavours finding new life in far off nations; we have countries with vastly different techniques creating modern fusions; and we have science making cooking safer, easier, faster, and more consistent.
That’s not to say that the old methods are likely to die out any time soon. There is something timeless about the flavour and aroma of food cooked over coal and wood, or even underground. There is something that connects us with our ancestors in a truly unique way when we take their recipes and create them to the letter, and when we share these dishes with our families. This is only one of the many reasons why I find such joy and fulfillment in the endeavour of a culinary career. You can take everything else in the world that divides us; age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, political affiliation; but in the end we all understand and appreciate food; we all use it as the centerpiece for celebrations from birth until death, and every other major milestone in between. Food brings us together like nothing else can. We may never be able to see the world as those who came before us did, or experience every intricate culture of this earth, but we can still taste them, and this in itself is a special kind of magic.