Remembering Our Roots: The 100 Foot Journey

In the movie, which we saw as a family yesterday, the young chef is Indian-born with a palate inspired by his mother’s culinary expertise. He takes his Masala Dabba, the infamous Indian spice box that varies slightly from chef to chef, into French kitchens and transforms the culinary landscape by sticking to the flavors he grew up on.

What a lesson for us all.

How close are you to your roots? Do you spend time each day remembering where you come from, who taught you to fly? Do you taste the flavors of your childhood, of your native land, (metaphorically speaking) in the meals you make for your family?

And then do you expand your talents and your flavors with new knowledge acquired, new lands visited, new menus sampled?

See, that’s the key to building a life of meaning and success.

It’s not just a race to see who can have the most, travel the farthest, and rest on their elbows in their sunset years, remembering how far ahead of the crowd they came. Life is an exploration, a journey, an adventure and most importantly, a self-discovery.

Every time I travel somewhere, I come home to me. On the journey. In places I’ve never before known. I rediscover my soul and my raison d’être when I am on the road.

my grandmother’s matzo ball soup recipe carries her signature fresh dill…ready for me to expand upon and/or keeping me grounded

And the flavors…to know that it’s not always the way I thought it was is a liberation, an open door. That I can add hue and color and scent and texture and still recognize the dish on my plate but savor its transformation.

My transformation.

Racing to the finish line, trying to pull ahead of everyone else, accumulating piles of cash, that’s all a horribly damaging illusion. What happens when you do pull ahead, and when your bank account is really full? Are you any happier?

I’m going to guess no.

In the movie, the young chef quickly ascends to culinary fame, but he is lonely and alone, ponderous in his bottomless drinks. Sure, the world showers him with acclaim, but ultimately he goes home alone.

So he goes home to himself. To the town where he broke free. To the flavors and the ingredients of his youth.

To his roots.

It’s not just where we come from. It’s where we ought to live. Think about that the next time you flee the familiar neighborhoods.

I’m the first to say that the exact crowds I grew up in aren’t necessarily my crowds today. But I’ll tell you firmly that when I coast down those streets that raised me, the familiar comes back to me, a warm blanket, a reassuring hug.

I take a little bit of flavor from my past and add a healthy dose of new flavors from the past four decades. I even borrow from my inheritance, the legacies of my ancestors whom I never knew – sometimes, the right way to do something is the oldest way.

Full flavor, over an open fire, taking the time and care to nurture taste to maturity. That’s all. There is no better lesson about our purpose in life.

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