There are a few people in the world of food and cooking who have the passion to immerse themselves into a culture and come away with the gems, dishes hidden in homes and restaurants that are attached to old ways of life and to the hearts of the people who live that life. Paula Wolfert did it the old fashioned way, by moving to a place and living there. She did it when many of these countries were still pre-industrial so traditional producers and cooks were still embedded in daily culture. She traveled with no fixers, no TV crews, no bloggers advice. She was just living life, using her keen intellect and ability to create relationships with culinary mentors to document traditional foodways. Paula made a career of digging deep and sharing what she found. As her life evolved our culinary education evolved with her. My personal cooking matured as it was fed on Paula’s books. She took a generation of us on her journeys through homes and kitchens, teaching all of us the value of flavor, doing things a very particular way, authenticity (old ways) and, as she says,…ingredients, ingredients, ingredients.
Much has been written recently about Paula’s latest adventure, using her culinary skills to keep Alzheimers at bay. Not by eating the food, but through her life long practice of cooking. It’s an interesting journey, watching someone who taught us so much teach us again, but this time about the value of cooking to keep the brain making connections. To watch her read from her own books in the video above is to see determination and joy meet in a very interesting place. The project of her culinary memoir has been very successful on Kickstarter, but the stretch goal for these last few days is important. More money means the possibility to print more books so that more folks can understand the life force of one of our most important teachers. Help this bold journey continue. There are three days left to participate.