Cooking and eating are most definitely the best parts of my day, and in a perfect world that part of my day would never end. When you’re in love with food like I am, it is no strange to learn more and more about the different ways to cook and enjoy food. My motivation to set off on this culinary cycling adventure, was to find the best kept local food secrets, stories, and to learn more about the organic side of food.
And then last week as I was biking from Turis to Valencia, my dad sent me a link to a critical article titled; ‘’Is organic food healthier?” The conclusion? Probably not. I was a little shocked at first but reading on, it also made a lot of sense.
The article is all about land; organic farmers need more land to grow the same amount of food and that approach is ultimately harmful to the environment.
As interesting as this article was, I am not trying to prove a point about organic food, good or bad. Life Cycle Stories is about me and my bicycle trying to connect people, cultures, food and stories across the European continent, and maybe beyond! Meeting food producers and locals, learning from their stories and passion for food. That makes this mission very personal but I always try to keep an open mind. When you have a passion for food and enjoy cooking and sharing your story then you have my ears, my taste buds and my attention.
On that note, I would like to share this story with you.
Sylvia and Josef showed me what it looks like to live in a completely different world than the one I have grown up in. They live deep in the Spanish countryside, in the region called Castilla la Mancha. They also call it ”the Lapland Spain”, because there is very little housing and live around. It dry, flat and the ground has a deep red colour. For me a not very inspiring part, the days where long. But I did meet Josef and Sylvia which was a great pleasure. Living without any electricity or running water. They live with their new-born 5 week year old baby, and are completely self-reliant, living off vegetables and produce from their own land. They invited me into their home and impressed me with one of the best and most creative home cooked meals I have ever had!
Have you ever dreamed of packing up your city life, quitting your stressful office job, moving to the countryside and starting over? Surrounded by endless views, fresh air, and living a more simple life? Well, they did it! I captured my visit to this inspiring family’s home in a small video.
And then the next day, ready to get back out on the road again. I always try to think of the most important lesson I learned from the people I meet along the way, and Sylvia and Josef showed me that happiness in life is not about money or possessions. It’s about the people you share your meal with.
Now I am cycling more and more up north, along the Costa Brava, even crossed Barcelona today. I can smell the ocean spray and the freshly caught seafood accompanied by a cold beer. I am taking a little more time then I planned for this part of my journey, simply because I can! I love the sun, the people and food in Catalunya.
Now after 2 weeks of cycling on my own again, I can feel my spirit and rhythm coming back. After spending 3 weeks with family, in France and Spain, I found it really hard to spend the long hours alone on the road each day, I started to doubt why I was doing all this and thought about giving up. But then just on a beautiful route along the coast 200 km south of Barcelona, my drive started to kick in again. I realize now that as a solo traveller, you are more approachable than as a duo or group. Locals will usually reach out to help if you look lost, will strike up a conversation with me because they are curious, and everyone is incredibly friendly. And these past few days, after meeting so many new people again, who teached me all kind of cooking, life lessons and generosity , my energy is back. Time flies and I start to enjoy the hours, the routes, the landscapes. Now it’s time to hit the second part of the Pyrenees, crossing into France again. I will spend a couple of days at a vineyard in France called the Grapehunters (Dutchies who followed there passion for wine!) Straight into the beautiful but challenging Alps and down to my final destination; Italia!
Of course I can’t leave you without a fabulous local recipe. The famous and eternaly popular Spanish gazpacho, one of my favourite tasty and simple dishes from the rich Spanish food culture.
Simply take full-flavoured sun riped tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, onion, pepper with olive oil, salt, water, bread and wine vinegar. Blend it
- 4 Large tomatoes
- 1 small piece of white bread, soaked in water
- 1 small piece cucumber, peeled and seeded
- 1 small green bell pepper, cored and seeded
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Some fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
– and maybe some fresh basil leaves when you like it
Cooking is also playing with colours!
Life Cycle Stories