Food for Thought

Anyone that is anyone that knows me, especially in high school, knew that ordering two extra value meals, with dessert was simply a normality.  I always had an appetite that was voracious.  I would be at conferences and trips abroad and I would always be the individual that would ask for everyone’s plates, and coupled with my metabolism, there was always a fire in the furnace.  

Honestly, I do not know where I started to notice food as a medium for learning, education, communication, and an open door to so many other rooms of learning – but I always seem to find that as part of my education and residence in Mexico. 

When I started writing a blog to record the changes, the moments that would be one of, if not the single most meaningful change for my in moving to Mexico, I did not want to miss the opportunity to record and notate these changes as they occurred. I found in Mexico I could be simply walking home and literally discovering by passing at least 10 new food establishments EVERY DAY.  All these various establishments were truly works of art – from the layout of the buildings, the care taken into the display of food, to the simple meaning you could see in the preparation, food was and is on a totally different level and revered in Mexico – it was truly life-changing couple with the emphasis on a slower pace to life, meeting and greeting each other, every day spent with a large expectation of enjoying each other’s company as large part of any daily routine.

Every Friday I resolved to visit a new establishment, and find out as much as I possibly could about the food served there. A habit began to form for the next seven years. My Blog section titled “Restaurants as a Second Home” took off – I wandered into restaurants recommended, discovered, and found all over Mexico, sometimes in the states when I visited on conference trips and commented on the food, the staff, sometimes the idea behind the restaurant and I found – something deeper. The restaurants in various locations represented so much about my home in Mexico in so many ways – they represented the neighborhoods, the culture, the beliefs, so much- and a connection to who individuals are emerged.  It was a totally different take on what food can represent in the middle of – well anywhere. The beauty I tried to capture in the images I took representing the food establishments and the meals I tried to pair with the beauty of the culture they represented.

Fast forward to Delaware, where I now have begun to inch towards the same project, only at the link titled “D is for Delaware.”  I realized when individuals do not know an area, I wanted them to become more familiar.  This was the original purpose of my blog when I started it when I left for Mexico originally.  Through my experiences, I fell in love with a Mexico that was entrenched in so much culture and open-mindedness that I had not been exposed to in the states, I was enthralled and sucked in, and knew it had to be portrayed – the reality of Mexico versus the depiction from afar.  The realization that there is so much that is similar to us versus the disparity, it intrigued me.  It connected me to so many individuals that helped bring me to a place where I was more me, and that is powerful.  The success of our Repentino. magazine as a representative of the arts in so many areas relied on connections that many do not realize are there.

There is a major culture shock when you leave a place where you find yourself in so many ways (food, culture, and more) and yet, I was lucky to retain so many connections to the process of rediscovering my talents and the need for time to do activities such as THIS – blogging and being able to reflect and realize the importance of events around me, and retain a portion of my day for that – thanks to what I discovered through food in Mexico. 

On the way home from The Addams Family production – opening night – (yes go if you have not been this is the LAST WEEKEND and it is HYSTERICAL)  – I am vocally conversing with a very close friend and confidante who helped supervise Repentino. through some challenging years, she in South Korea now – starting with  – “I want to tell you something.” and event though the internet does not have a voice, isn’t it funny how the internet can have a tone when certain lines are typed, despite there, just being type?a In this case it did, and then through the next hour our conversation affirmed what I had been thinking when I returned to the states, how each of us here are connected to so many others in other countries in some form or fashion.

This sounds relatively simple as a statement, but takes on a totally different reality when you start over from scratch in a new country, with the whole starting over such as earning a wage, learning a neighborhood, learning each other as a neighborhood, and a willingness to leave all behind to be taken care of by others that start out as strangers to you.  That is a whole different situation.  To not regress, an hour later, a young lady I had worked alongside with and relied on for so much, for years in a school I worked out, I was still rediscovering her battle with her fear of food.  That is right, her fear of food.  And I NEVER realized the image of herself was so fraught with fallacy. I thought I knew her in and out just because we knew so much about each other – but yet, there are fears and anxieties that affect us no matter where we are from, where we are headed, no matter where we are going that affect us mentally, socially, physically, and geographically.  I feel at times myself for sure, but we do not do enough do enough to use those tools of personal connections to help each other heal – and when we do, new doors open.  

What we were doing as a literary are magazine staff to try to amplify events and culture around us using social media, she was using to amplify the obstacles that were in front of her using social media to overcome her food disorder while also helping others across the world to realize the same.  This was powerful to me.  Moreso than going on to become an individual who works in their own field of graphic design, she was mapping her own success and providing a structure for others to do the same, no matter where in the world they might be.

Transition to the podcast The Splendid Table, not even a day or so after this conversation with Sam, (and having received the awesome contribution of writing that was yet another form of expression of her hurdling this disorder she was working through) – and food was the feature but the things said about food here, powerful.  I loved the stereotype in this session that is placed on when you hear the words “Israel” versus “Palestine” and how easy it is to allow media, biased media at that, to define area and distort the reality of an area.  Hence, how food can take that distortion away and provide  a path of reality and realizations.  Yasmin Khan is a powerful voice in her book Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen to break barriers of what is usually political and controversial and sharing the power that food has to heal, and help encourage thought, and not hatred.

If you pay close enough attention, Sam works through an episode of her vlog doing two things, using not only social media but food as a method of communicating a common place to meet halfway and the power of storytelling and how it can effect social change.  As I looked back on my life and the fortune I have had due to the relationships I have been blessed, the way to affect change is to “…connect people to their hearts…” as this podcast states and it was true.  We tried to do and I felt succeeded with the mission and where we took individuals in Mexico through Repentino..  Sam is doing this now with using vlogs to reportray herself – for herself but also for others and a willingness to initiate healing for those having a food disorder which results to how they perceive Pamela Morenothemselves.  I have seen Pamela Moreno do the same exact thing – seeing a young lady petrified of speaking in front of others but then a resurgence of self using vlogs, her continuance in movies on the screen, I continue to be incredibly proud of how individuals I began to know as students have found positive ways to use technology to challenge stereotypes and fears, creating paths for healing.  This blog (hysterical, instead of Hamas, talking about Humus) help redirect the political and negative aspects always heard about geographical areas and anxieties and redirect those very conversations into something much more healthy.

“We are not clowns in a circus for you to come, and watch and make research notes about and make your name for writing down our suffering.”

I love this quote from a woman in Yasmin Khan‘s book connecting to how stories that go nowhere opposed to messages and actions that can change results after stories are passed on to others and stroke to the heart and pass the media frenzy of just simply causing controversy.  Otherwise it is as just as noted above, to just travel around, and not truly “…be aware of what is around you (Yasmin Khan).


I am so excited and motivated and PROUD of the resilience that Sam, Cora, and Pamela have gone onto use technology to heal and to help others heal.  In the process they are also using media to send positive messages breaking down stereotypes and misconceptions of pepperdine graphicculture as depicted through mainstream media.  Take for example Monica Avila, who has turned Pepperdine University by storm who does infographics (see her name under the infographic here? – ) and her articles here  and am I proud that she launched herself from Repentino. to Pepperdine?  I love seeing her ability impact so many, and show what is possible.  Priceless.

Cora Laudato, having obstacle after obstacle placed in her way after relocating to the states, and being the spectacular artist I knewcoraful art.PNG she was in Mexico and the states, has always MACOused vlogs and her video process to connect with art and show what art can be in an artistic sense and technical/functional sense – has taken art and turned it into a conversation on individual’s lives. She had her share of personal questioning and fears and yep, here she is paving a path of success based on artistic foundations.

Sam is now in her own whirlwind of involvement with her own activity on her Yonseipublication of Yonsei, Annals, and overall, we are seeing young women that had major fears and doubts of whether a role on a literary magazine would have any impact on them later and life, and redefining the country the come from, who they are as individuals, women, and leaders, and what they can be in the future.  I am pretty sure many individuals such as Monica, Pamela,  Cora and Sam got through the motions and life without thinking what is possible for positive change.  However, these young ladies have gone on to be the women that are making a positive change in their own lives as well as the world around them.  I think there is no greater contribution. The connections of vlogs, blogs, podcasts, food, countries, politics, food anxieties, and so much more we come into contact with every day are connections that can overlap and teach us about ourselves, as well as others, more than we know, if we allow ourselves, and others to make those connections for us to be healthier individuals. Definite food for thought that will go much longer than one single sit down meal.

When I attended the CSPA Conference at Columbia University, the realization of success in yet another student named Bessy would come fore front. Stay tuned – that post episode is right on the horizon!



About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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