It was about a year ago that my first book The Culinary Cyclist came out.
It’s crazy to think that a year has gone by. In fact it’s amazing to think back to when I was writing the book. I remember when the outline first came together, sitting in a cafe in Portland on a work date with a good friend. I had a blank sketchbook with me, which I like to use to write sometimes because the pages are big and blank and I can sketch little drawings as I go along.
I sat and stared at that blank page for a long time, then went to work on something else as I couldn’t get the ideas into place. But then eventually they spilled out onto the paper, and quickly. I scribbled quickly in order to keep up with the pace of my thoughts.
The book unfolded in a way that made me think that maybe I’d always had The Culinary Cyclist in me, that it was just a matter of putting a name and an official project to it in order for it to come out.
Maybe that’s how books are sometimes. The Culinary Cyclist is no work of great literature – it’s a cookbook after all. But the experience has left me with the desire to write more, be it a short story or thoughts on food.
So, happy birthday dear little book, I hope you celebrate with lots of coffee and peanut butter cookies.
What if you were told you couldn’t ride a bicycle?
Would you give up the joy of two wheels or would you accept the risks and pedal anyway?
For women in Afghanistan, riding a bicycle is taboo. But there are women doing it regardless of those taboos and cultural expectations, and their story is inspiring, the topic of the upcoming film Afghan Cycles.
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities, and not just for the bikes. There’s something about being surrounded by water that just makes me feel at home. You ride along the canals, your bicycle bumping over the occasional cobblestones and you can literally feel the pace of life slowing down.
On a recent weekend trip I made it a mission to track down good coffee (as usual). In fact I was so committed to my mission that half an hour after getting off the train I as sitting at local coffee roaster Headfirst drinking a filter coffee. If you’re committed, you’re committed.
I have been brewing kombucha at home for many years now. Which in turn has made me a bit of a kombucha freak. But this is hat happens when you start fermenting at home. The process is fun and it’s kind of amazing to be able to make your own bubbly, fermented drink with nothing more than tea, sugar and a kombucha mother.
“What’s it like to ride in Paris?”
This is a question that gets asked regularly, both by those interested in cycling and also by those that just think it’s nuts to ride a bike in a big city.
It’s actually a hard question to answer, because there’s no easy answer. It’s difficult. It’s wonderful. It’s often a hot mess. It’s rewarding. It’s big city biking after all.
But there’s nothing better than exploring a city on two wheels, and if you’re up for the challenge of riding in Paris, you won’t regret it. Plus, the more people riding, the better. That’s how we make change.
This week I’ve got a guide to cycling in the City of Light over on HiP Paris.
Despite all the romantic pictures you’ve seen of ladies in flowing skirts with flowers and baguettes in their quaint bike baskets, cycling in Paris isn’t always beautiful. It’s often fast, dirty and sometimes a bit harrowing. But it’s also rewarding. Because when the sunlight hits the buildings just right and you get into the flow of navigating a tight Parisian street on two wheels, life feels really good.
Paris is a city of winding streets and grand boulevards; cars, buses, and pedestrians that don’t pay attention; and recklessly antsy scooter riders, ready to dodge a vehicle whenever the opportunity presents itself. Stop paying attention for a few minutes and you can get yourself into a lot of trouble.
This is not to deter you from cycling. On the contrary, I want you to embrace cycling in Paris – the more cyclists the better – but it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into. An added benefit of mastering vélo riding in Paris is that because it’s not always an easy city to ride in, you’ll feel especially accomplished once you learn to make your way through the network of streets and bike lanes. You will definitely deserve that glass of Sancerre when you saddle up to the wine bar later in the evening.
Read the full article here.
I’ve got thoughts about Paris and our notion of “home” in a new essay over on Medium. I have been meaning to write this essay for quite some time, and happy that it found a place in The Archipelago collection.
In the beginning, you feel high just from being in Paris. At dusk, the light hits the buildings just so. You find a bakery that makes the best almond croissants in the world. Nothing can get you down. But then eventually the downs do come, and they hit you hard, like a bucket of cold water in the face. Your bank meeting that was supposed to take ten minutes takes two hours. A taxi almost hits you while you’re riding your bike in the bike lane and you’re the one who gets yelled at. It rains. It gets gray. You try to go for a run and get hit on — “courage mademoiselle.” You spend far too much time arguing in French to get something accomplished that you didn’t even want in the first place. A certain dreariness sets in that you can’t seem to shake.
Like Bogart in Casablanca, I try to tell myself “I’ll always have Paris” — not the real city, with its homicidal cars and persistent men, but the memory, the good stuff. Eventually the daily frustrations will fade, and in ten years it will be easy to gloss over the frustration and be one of those people that casually throws “that time I lived in Paris” into conversation. It wasn’t just a ten-day trip, or a month abroad, I’ll tell people. No, I actually went and lived there. Wrote there. Ran there. Drove there. Called it home for a while. Even in the darkest moments, there’s something comforting about that thought. I’ll always have Paris.
In the meantime, because of my adopted city’s magical reputation, I don’t get to complain. “The apartment is tiny, I’m starting to feel claustrophobic.” “Yeah, but Anna, you’re in PARIS.” As if, once enough poems are written about a city, it becomes impossible to be sad there.
It felt good to write this piece. The editor challenged me to call it “Is Paris Any Good or Not?” but if anything it’s less about Paris and more about thinking what “home” means, and maybe even, where “home” is.
You can read the full essay here.