The process of writing the book happened almost by accident. Late one evening when I was with friends, I had been reminiscing about some of my travel stories when I was asked if I had ever kept a travel diary. When I said that I had never felt the need, I was asked whether I was worried that I would forget my experiences – that really got me thinking.
So I wrote down all of my travelling anecdotes that I could remember. After reading over them, so many of my stories were entwined with food experiences, that the idea of pulling my travel stories together with my favourite foods and recipes from when I have been on the road just felt like a natural progression and the idea for writing this book was born!
What is your favourite cuisine?
This is an impossible question! However, I think some of the best cuisine that I have eaten is from the Indochina region. The combination of flavours and influences that are reflected in the food is also a reflection of the history and the culture of each region.
What is your idea of food Heaven? Food Hell?
Any food that is fresh and has been cooked by someone who has taken the necessary time and care to prepare it will invariably end up tasting great. I love most foods, but I do have one food hell, tripe. No matter how it is cooked or presented, it invariably smells like wet dog (and its texture and taste is not much better).
What influences do you draw upon to fuel your creativity?
This has to be the foods that I have been eaten during my travels. However, it goes beyond just the experience of eating the new and exotic food.
So much of the inspiration comes from the broader experience; I learnt my recipe for vegetarian spring rolls while helping the women of the house prepare the evening meal during a homestay in the hill tribe areas of north-west Vietnam. It was such a simple recipe, and each time that I make spring rolls, I am immediately taken back to the memories of trekking along the valley floor, surrounded by cascading terraces of rice paddies for as far as the eye could see.
What is your current passion project?
When I was growing up, I was an avid reader. It concerns me that there are so many young people who do not read, largely because of poor literacy levels.
I have been working in collaboration with my publisher on programmes to help develop and edit books aimed at teen readers (that are in genres outside of teen fantasy). I hope that one day we will be able to distribute these works to young readers to schools in less affluent areas where I live.
'10 in 10'
We ask our favourite innovators, creators, movers & shakers, 10 questions in 10 minutes or less...
What music do you listen to when:
You want to unwind?
When I unwind, I just set my iPod to play my downloaded music randomly and switch off my brain.
You're hosting a dinner party for friends?
I don’t think that I have ever played music when I have had friends over.
You're in the mood to dance?
Lol – you have never seen me dance – no music is ever going to help that.
What are your must-have travel essentials?
iPod with my favourite music. Sometimes travel can be stressful and listening to music like this allows me to go into my own zone and relax.
Favourite travel companions?
My best experiences have been when I have travelled by myself. It forces you to meet people, and that is when you really get to understand the place you have travelled too.
What life lessons (if any) have your travels taught you?
Travel has taught me many things – independence, self-reliance and even some humility. But the biggest thing I have learnt is that although people are separated by so many things – language, culture, religion, wealth. In reality, people the world over are more united by what they have in common as part of humanity - love, family, curiosity, and moreover, food!
What city do you find the most:
Rome – it is no coincidence that it is called the “eternal city.”
Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. It is not the prettiest city I have been to, but there was so much energy, and so much bustling activity, it was hard not to be caught up by it.
Amsterdam – and not for the reason you think! But there was something incredibly relaxing about sitting outside by the canal, drinking beer in the spring sunshine.
Like your home away from home?
I have travelled and moved around so much in my adult life that “home” is wherever I now live for more than a few months at a time.
Top travel tip?
Don’t be afraid to try something new.
What's your soul food (e.g. food that makes your heart sing)?
I love proper street food.
I don’t think anything can beat a cold beer after a long, hot uncomfortable day of travelling.
How do you like to unwind?
Lie back, close my eyes and listen to my music.
Inspirational quote that you live by?
You’re here for a good time, not for a long time!
Travel Bites is published by Wattle Publishing (www.wattlepublishing.com), an independent publisher. Travel Bites is available now in paperback and digital format.
Available from Amazon.co.uk for £8.50.