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The Importance of New

As I swim through this deliciously soupy jetlag and reflect upon what I experienced in Australia this past week, I have been stumped as to how to begin to describe this epic journey. Even thinking about one day of the trip is a daunting task, as each was so full of new things. So, I will begin by exclaiming over the newness of it all!

I have always felt a little perplexed by people who travel the world on specific missions to taste things. Food and drink, however enjoyable, are jet fuel to me. My tongue has always been at the end of the line – my eyes are the teacher’s pet, strutting proudly in the front. However expensive or well presented a meal, I will bolt it down like a wolf to score another hour looking at vistas or exploring a museum.

My poor tongue finally got its turn as line leader a few years ago when I sat down to experience the tasting menu at my cousin-in-law’s New York restaurant, WD-50.

I knew that Wylie was famous for his groundbreaking work in the art of molecular gastronomy and his restaurant is a mecca for extreme foodies, but having thought of food as a means to an end for so long I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. As I tenderly bit into a dehydrated, reconstructed something-or-other that tasted like absolutely nothing I had ever laid fork to before, I finally realized what is so exciting to winies (that’s what I call them, sorry), foodies, and those crazy birders who tromp through swamps before sunrise trying to glimpse a feather that Audubon never drew:

Consciously, deliberately experiencing something utterly new.

When we successfully confuse and confound our mountain of a brain with a new experience, we stand at the top of our own personal windswept peak, giddily observing as the mind scrambles to categorize, sort and file the THING we have set before it. Whether it’s the taste and texture of an experimental food or the first glimpse of an astounding view, exposing ourselves to new things is how we retain the pure, puddle-stomping delight of youth.

During my time in Australia I didn’t just taste unfamiliar food. I saw, heard, tasted, smelled, felt and telekinetically manipulated with my sixth, seventh and eight senses countless things that were completely new to me. That’s more new than I’ve experienced maybe since I was a kid, and it was non-stop. My brain is wrung out and still dripping from the repeated dunking it received in that beautiful, intense bucket of new.

DSC_1040_lonelytreeHere’s a minute’s worth of jotting things that struck me in one day in Australia:

unidentifiable fruits and cheese

hot tea with milk made so perfectly it hurt

a yellow public road sign that read “End Artwork”

the people and their lilting speak

the voice of the elevator, oh wait, LIFT

the scent of eucalyptus in the air

funny furrowed-eyebrow shaped electrical sockets

the wooly texture of a koala’s fur

dangerous birds I’d never heard of

spooning a kangaroo

blue-green waves that made me swoon

pickled beets on a hamburger

ketchup that squirted me in the eye because I opened it wrong

bats with fox faces and skin wings, gorging on mysterious fruit

remarking to friends, “we are on the other side of the WORLD right now!

learning about lannikins

sandstone blocks with an inmate’s signature

laughing in dark alleys, pretending we were The Push Gang

 

I could go on and on. And I will! Tune in for more, I’ll be arranging more thoughts daily along with images galore.

Fresh. Happy. Inspired. Those are the gifts this trip gave to me.

Thank you, Australia. You’ve been the biggest puddle stomp ever.

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