Thanks for taking a look at Bergamot Orange. I began this blog in 2011 because I felt I had some things to share with people about my life and I swore to myself I would never again send another 3 page email to friends and family breathlessly listing this that was interesting and that that was new. I decided a blog would be a way to take one experience at a time and challenge myself to write about it, and even photograph it, in a concise, interesting, and hopefully, sometimes, amusing way.
The thing I thought made our lives worth even sharing about is that we work in international schools and live 9 months of the year in another country. We currently live in Tunis, Tunisia, but have previously lived in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Singapore. The rest of the year, we live at our small farm on Lummi Island, Washington. I began my blog thinking I was writing about my experiences as an expat, but the more I’ve written and thought about it, the clearer it is to me that I am just writing about my learning, all of the time, no matter where I am.
I like to learn. I force feed books through my mind like a wood chipper. Being a middle school teacher, I read a lot of young adult fiction, and I get in a few adult titles, too, being partial to memoirs. But I subsist on a steady diet of reading about food. I am interested in food production, nutrition, cooking techniques, and biographical pieces about interesting chefs, along with recipes. Living in a foreign country gives me more varied food experiences, but I am always going about cooking in the same way: I encounter some inspiring ingredients or an intriguing method and I go about giving something a try.
Writing about some of the reading I’ve done and recipes I’ve tried is a way that I stop the information barrage that I have allowed into my life. If I can choose a recipe out of a book or magazine, cook it, write about it, and actually make it mine, I feel like I have made something useful of the information and improved or at least informed my cooking in the process. I find that creating a blog post helps me focus better in other areas of my life, too. When I’m feeling a little scattered and overwhelmed, I go here and it centers me.
As I have amassed a body of work now, over several years, this has become my personal cookbook. These are the recipes and ways of cooking that define me. I frequently go into my own archives and recooking dishes builds my muscle memory for them, giving me a springboard from which to improvise. I am not at all apologetic that these aren’t all my original recipes. I think there is a real need for cooks who, like secondary consumers, go through the vast amount of published information and pull out some gems to present for the consideration of people who don’t invest that kind of time in food reading.
If you follow the storyline, you will become familiar with my most intimate cast of characters: my husband, Allan, and our two young adult sons, Gabel and Anton. Sometimes I post prolifically. Please don’t mind, it just means I have a lot I want to capture and I probably have a little time and some good daylight. Other times, I might disappear for a few weeks and that is usually symptomatic of life running right over my head or of having no time to myself. Either way, I would be honored to know you read along and would love to hear comments about your own experiences and adaptations.
The first year I moved to Tunis, I discovered the bergamot orange. I chose its name as my title because it represents discovery and a little exoticism, in my mind. I am certain to continue making discoveries about life and food, so I’ll also keep trying to capture as many of those insights here as I can.