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Around the world in 80 plates

“I don’t know how to tell you this, but…” Daniel paused before letting the words exit his mouth.


A croissant from my trip to France.
A croissant from my trip to France.

My heart dropped as I waited on the edge of my rocking chair. In the 4.5 years of our relationship, I had stomached many earfuls of blunt, honest, and constructive criticism from Daniel, so I knew from his hesitancy that this would be hard to take.


“I’m cancelling our trip around the world,” he uttered in a breath.


“What?” I scrunched up my eyebrows then began to laugh with relief. “You mean we’re not going to India?”


“I mean, you can go… but I can’t come with you anymore. Between finishing this PhD and making sure Snowpea doesn’t kill herself, there’s no time,” he said over baby screams.


“Divorce,” I said and casually waved him away.


“You don’t understand how much work it was to lead the trip to Japan. All the hours searching for recipes, all the trips to H-Mart…”


“Oh, I get it. Remember how I led for France? You were barely there with me,” I said, my eyes still glued to my computer screen.


“Yeah, well all you did in Japan was make mochi that ended up in the trash.”


“All you did in France was eat my croissants.”


“Excuse me, you needed my muscles to roll out those croissants,” he retorted, raising his voice over Snowpea.


“Whatever happened to your plans to boil lobster for me like in Julie and Julia? What would Julie do in this situation? And how will I ever break it to my many fans?” I asked, lifting my gaze and reaching out for our squirming baby.


“You haven’t blogged in over 3 months,” he reminded me. “This trip is just too much work, and I need all my brain power to write my dissertation right now. Cancel your flight to Delhi because it’s going to be takeout from here on out,” Daniel said, leaving with Snowpea and retreating to the kitchen.


And there I found myself slumped on my rocking chair with one hand supporting my baby and the other hand typing away in shorthand. Snowpea’s cries softened, but I was still left with an hour of remote work and no dinner plans for the 10 months that remained of the year.


Around the World in 80 Plates was more than just the name of a two-star reality cooking show; it was our brilliant idea for 12 months of cooking inspiration and our solution to going stir-crazy during the pandemic. The plan was this: we would spend one month ‘visiting’ each country by cooking a variety of dinner dishes and desserts linked to the land. January was Japan, February was France, and March was supposed to be India, but Daniel had just nixed those plans and it didn’t fit the alliteration anyways.


The choice landed in my very full hands: Do I go on without Daniel, continuing the cooking journey as a single working mother? Or do I let the adventure go as an ambitious whim that was poorly planned but fun while it lasted?


...


Nearly two months later, I found myself here in my hometown with my hands freed up for an hour or two at a time and my father hungry for dinner. Before arriving, my father stressed the one condition for he and my mother to help with childcare while Daniel works on his dissertation is I must help with dinner.


“Can you teach me some British dishes – mushy peas, scones, or culturally appropriated curry?” I asked one evening.


We may have missed our flight to India in March, but we could still spend the remaining weeks of April in England.


To be continued.

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