I took a trip down memory lane this morning, in my favorite way to take trips: through food. I’ve realized recently that it’s not traveling that I love so much; it’s eating. When I think about my favorite cities and towns, yes, I do think of the scenery, but while I’m there, visiting, I’m always planning my next meal.

This is something I’ve hidden behind because it’s kind of embarrassing. I’m super-vata, and if you don’t know what vata means, essentially: I’m hyper, my mind goes a mile a minute, I move really fast both in speed and in decisions. When I’m doing something, I often think: what’s next? What’s coming up? What do I have to look forward to? You can probably sense this in my writing too: I tend to be all over the place, which I know for a fact my book editor sure is throwing the warnings signs at.

This is a very frustrating way to be, not only for myself, but most importantly for my husband, a classic kapha: quiet, slow-moving, extremely thoughtful, he loves and appreciates living in the moment. Not me: I want what’s next, what’s bigger, what’s better, I want to know what is around the corner. I want to experience it all, and most importantly, I want my taste buds to experience it all.

It’s a challenging way to live, both for my mental health and my waistline. I have friends who fast daily, this new (to me) thing called intermittent fasting, and I recently tried it; and oh dang, two days in and I was like: why the hell would anyone do this?

See? Vata. Hyper, unfocused, I want it all.

Which brings me to Portland. Apparently it’s my favorite city that I recently forgot about. Under normal times, my mom and I travel to a new city and new art festival each year. The art is great, and the food is even better. This morning, I decided to clean up my book of recipes, and I found: dozens upon dozens of menus from Portland.

Blossoming Lotus. Prasad. Tin Shed. Harlow. Canteen. A.N.D. Cafe, The Bye and Bye. Seriously, you name it. Vegan menus galore.

Which sent my tastebuds off, and my memories off, and it made me realize: 1. Portland is most definitely the best North American city for vegans, and 2. I travel for the food.

Which might be why my best memories are from Portland and Nashville, and some of my worst are from Kansas City and Louisville. Why Seattle tops my list. And why Fort Worth, my hometown, simply doesn’t (for food, at least).

Why I would love to go back to Ireland and someday see Scotland or Brazil or Peru or Croatia, and yet: I’m super nervous about the food. Especially Ireland. Oof. Aside from Dublin, that was some bland food.

So, we can’t travel, or better yet, we shouldn’t. We’re in the middle of a pandemic for goodness sake. So I’ve pulled out my favorite cookbooks, which I’ll do a round-up soon, and I’m pouring over recipes that are from veggie-focused areas, places I’ve never traveled to like Palestine and India and Africa, and I’m traveling there through my tastebuds. I’m remembering the incredible meals I’ve had and the people I’ve experienced them with. Mostly I’m remembering all of the delicious meals with my mom over the years, in Dallas, in Madison, in Portland, in Amherst, in Des Moines, in Houston, in Asheville, in Minneapolis, in Albuquerque, and the incredible meals with my husband, in Nashville, in D.C., in Charleston, in Scottsdale, in Sedona, in Salt Lake, in Austin, in New Orleans, in Santa Fe.

So many delicious experiences and tastes brought to us by talented chefs who chose to share their passions with the greater community.

That’s how I travel: through food, through cooking, through laughter, through one-on-one conversations and experiences. This is the best part of life.

Happy New Year.