After a 22 hour flight home from Beijing, China to Salt Lake City, I was greeted at the baggage claim by a handsome and somewhat nervous boy. 80 days abroad wasn’t enough to scare him away. The 14 hour time change and lack of sleep for 48 hours previous didn’t even phase me, I was excited to be home and certainly thrilled to finally see Andrew Chenn again. Sometimes I set out on far away adventures and forget the beautiful ones that await for me at home, and this one was far more beautiful than I ever remembered it being.
Everything was perfect, partly because Andrew is a planner. The personality test (also known as the Innovator’s DNA test) we took in last semester’s Business Strategy Class last semester nailed it. Andrew is an executive, he has things planned out to a T and they always turn out, and I am the whimsical innovator constantly developing crazy and often hopeless ideas. Luckily for me opposites attract, and after two months of strategy classes, late night case studies, and lots of rock climbing and sushi, a new story of an executive and a developer began.
If you know me, you know that I find beauty in the presence of simplicity. That is just how my first day back was. It was simple and it was perfect. A hug in the airport, two hands intertwined on the way to the car, and in the front seat flowers and a kiss. We talked like we hadn’t missed a beat the past three months, and he knew my favorite flowers were orchids.
We drove to Finca, a Spanish Restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City that serves Tapas, small Spanish savory dishes. We pulled into the parking lot in Andrew’s 1998 dark green volvo and my airport styled hair. Despite the lack of everything luxurious, I still felt classy and Tapas instantly became one of my all-time favorite cuisines. Savory meats and delicate plants, spiced with a myriad of Spanish flavors, and displayed beautifully on white porcelain; I left with both my mouth and my eyes happy. Also, as the mark of my first date back with Andrew Chenn how could I not fall in love with Spanish cuisine? An evening full of sparkling eyes, grinning from ear to ear, and constant laughter was enough to confirm that distance really does make the heart grow fonder, and what I am positive is a very data-driven conclusion. Right, Andrew? What a beautiful thing to arrive home to, and the Tapas were not bad either.
People tease Andrew and I that we like to eat “pretty food”. The answer is, yes we do. We both share a love of food that is exotic, beautiful, and prepared well. That love, paired with our love to cook, and my desire to travel the world in as many ways possible, started us on our journey to taste the cuisines of the 196 countries in the world. That Tapas evening was 22 days ago. Since then we have explored 15 different world cuisines, and still had moments to fit our traditional sushi nights in. One college kitchen, Google, and two iPhone cameras later, and we are on a journey to conquer the world’s cuisines.
#1 Spain: Tapas at Finca SLC
#2 China: Fried Rice, Beef and Broccoli, Spinach Salad, Egg and Tomato Stir-fry
#3 Japan: Hommeade Sushi
#4 Taiwan: Hand-Pulled Noodles
#5 Peru: Ceviche and Perihuela at Se Llama Peru
#6 Turkey: Spinach Lamb, Red Pepper Hummus, shirazi salad, bazlama
#7 Mexico: Mole at Red Iguana
#8 Lebanon: Shawarma Kebobs, Tabouli, Sesame Hummus, Baklava
#9 El Salvador: Carne Asada, Rice and Beans, Pupusas at El Salvador Provo
#9.5 Sushi (listed again because Sushi is so good) at Kyoto
#10 Vietnam: Pho, Summer Rolls at Noodle King
#11 Korea: Beef Bulgogi, Jap Chae at Sam Hawks
#12 Morocco: Beef Tagine, Spinach Apricot Salad
#14 America: Navaho Tacos at Black Sheep