#ICAEF Portugal/Morocco

I am in France, fresh off an #ICAEF Culinary Learning Journey. Being back on my own suits me.. a lot I think. This trip was overwhelming for me, I will explain. My travels are usually on my own timetable and it is a slow one, sure I am older, but even 10 years ago I was on slow time. The myriad of new sights, sounds, aromas and food choices alone, were more than I could bear. Hmmm.. we didn’t eat any bear meat BUT look out all you old goats, you are not safe here! All you roosters can quit crowing too because you taste just like chicken.. I know now!

The men of Portugal are all handsome and worth the trip, Miguel and Kevin only two of the many that were a delight for my gorgeous hazel eyes.. I know, stretching it out a bit here. There is something magical about a man all dressed up in a suit, there just is. The male species in Portugal do not disappoint. Kevin, (I had to fight off a member of our entourage, she will remain nameless, to sit next to him) one of the drivers in our caravan of shiny black Mercedes we used some evenings, turns out to be Canadian (born in Montreal) we like each other .. and so we should..lol

There is so much to do and see and eat, crammed into too little time. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it .. only that it was exhausting for me (everyone else seemed fine). Too many steps and hills and walking.. “just a little bit farther” is a total lie Raschid (our guide in Morocco) I am onto you! “Only a fifteen minute walk” is also a lie Miguel (our guide in Lisbon) that may be for long legged people that walk fast : ( Some had fitbits on and we walked over five and a half miles some days, or over 12,000 steps..!) my body was built for comfort not for speed.. : ) I wonder what that is in kilometers, hmmm…

The food was over the top (in a good way) I’m not into cooking much these days.. I can cook for thousands and I have, but not so much for myself. Miguel, our guide in Portugal, likes to cook (relax.. he shared that with me) he can clean and do washing as well.. ooops sorry, back on track here. We were treated to the best of the best, breakfasts, lunch and dinners, tea breaks, and the wine flowed freely. There is only one thing I feel bad about, we left so much food on our plates or uneaten. I hope we didn’t offend any of our hosts but it was impossible to eat everything offered.. it just was. I did put a dent in it and did my share, I doubt any wine was wasted though.. just sayin..

Onto the best part of this whole experience.

As with any trip I have taken, meeting new people is always an adventure. Sometimes clicking immediately with some, while others take time to simmer. Some you may have to boil for awhile until they soften up, if not then throw em to the wolves! My cab driver in France was wolf fodder for sure.. geez, he re-enforced my happy life in the single lane. Why are some so snotty I wonder, are they happy thinking they are better than everyone else? We are all on the same journey here, maybe he hates his life as a cabbie .. who knows..

I want to say that the caterers, chefs and lawyers (yes we had three of em) I met on this trip, have all enriched my life in some way. Sharing their stories intrigues me and is never boring. I have learned so much from so many. I built my lowly little barbeque business in Canada, with help from this very same group, figuratively speaking. Not by myself of course, I took advantage of child labor (our kids).. my ex built everything we needed and fixed everything that broke down (except me) and stuff broke down a lot! Maybe as caterers that is why we relate to each other so well.. we’re not afraid to share our mistakes and our successes. There was always someone to answer my calls for help. I NEED TO COOK 500 LOBSTERS..  comes to mind.. whew..

Surprisingly a number of us are self taught (who knew?) We all started somewhere and this trip connected me with so many more of my peers. This my friends, is what made my trip so special for me. I huffed and I puffed and thought I couldn’t hike another step but you encouraged me and never once threatened to put me in a wheelbarrow! I think someone offered to carry me once, or was that me threatening someone they would have to carry me if there was another hill around that corner.. lol. Each of you took turns slowing down to walk with me and let me go my own speed. AND so it is in our catering lives as well .. each of us on different levels lending a hand to those that seek and need encouragement or validation or just pure inspiration…

I want you to know, you are all my hero’s