Wednesday, April 15, 2015

World Piece: Soundtrack for a Round-the-World Journey


Preparing for a trip around the world requires a little planning. Okay, a lot of planning. And I don't love planning. I'm more the type to just wing it. I usually get on a plane without ever having glanced at a guidebook and trust that I'll find my way. In all my years of traveling all over the planet that "casual" approach has worked for me. Even my first big trip abroad at 21, setting off for a year in Europe, I circled my finger around the map and determined that wherever my finger landed is where I would start my trip. (Bern, Switzerland, in case you were wondering.) But this time, well, I'm older and more cautious, I would even say fearful. My mind fills up at night with scenarios of all that could go wrong. That's a lot of hours of insomnia. Hell, I even bought travel insurance for the first time in my life.

To ease my anticipation of what's to come, I've been going for runs on the beach. With my iPod blasting in my ears. Music not only helps motivate me to actually run (as opposed to, say, walk -- or, as I'm often tempted to do, just sit and watch the waves). The music also calms the chatter in my mind. What I've noticed on my recent runs is how much closer I've been listening to all the lyrics. As my playlist shuffles through the usual -- and eclectic -- stock there have been a few tunes that have stood out, songs that, if my World Piece journey had a soundtrack, would be on it.

Some of these might be obvious -- addressing peace and understanding. John Lennon's classic is a no-brainer; I like this Aerosmith cover from the Instant Karma album. But if I could pick only one song it would be Michael Franti's; it's all about how we all need to get along--and listen to each other-- no matter what language we speak.

But there are other songs that speak to what is going on with me internally. Like having to let go.

Marcus, my late husband
Taking off for a round-the-world trip means saying goodbye to a lot of attachments. To my apartment. To my dog. To my family. To my belongings. To my familiar surroundings. And to the thing (the person) I don't like to talk about so much anymore -- because I'm sure everyone is getting tired of hearing about him, and I wanted to believe I was done with my grief -- and that is Marcus.

This trip to me represents letting go of him.

I hadn't realized until I booked my flights, using the last of his 400,000 frequent flyer miles he racked up from his corporate travels, that by holding onto those miles I was still holding onto him. I waited until just hours before their expiration date to use them. When I secured my round-the-world ticket I should have been ecstatic. Instead, I cried the entire next day. Those miles were another piece of him.

So yeah, about that song, "Let Go" by Frou Frou:

    Let go, jump in, what are you waiting for, it's so amazing here, 
    it's all right, there's beauty in the breakdown. 

The countdown for take-off has begun. In a month and a half from now my suitcase will be loaded in the cargo hold, the airplane door will close behind me, the jet wheels will lift off from American soil, and I will be on my way. One way. One direction. All the way around the globe. In spite of the pre-journey jitters, I have faith it's going to be a f*cking amazing adventure.

Until then, I'm going to keep running, and keep listening to these songs. And hopefully add some more.

Is Love Enough by Michael Franti  (This is the studio version I have on my iPod.)

Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon (This is Aerosmith's version from Instant Karma.)

These Days by Jackson Browne  ("I'll keep on moving, things are bound to be improving...")

Don't Panic by Coldplay  (Yes, we do live in a beautiful world. I want to go be reminded of that.)

Let Go by Frou Frou  (Uh, yeah. See above.)

Roam by The B-52s  (How can you not love this song?)

Jai Ho by A.R. Rahman  (Jai Ho means “Let there be victory” in Hindu.)

93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz  (I like to think of this one as a kind of homecoming song.)


What songs would you add to the WORLD PIECE playlist? What would your own playlist include to express where you're at in your life right now?



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Sunday, April 12, 2015

WORLD PIECE: Announcing my global pie-making mission!


The Concept

On June 2nd, I will be embarking on a round-the-world journey I’m calling “World Piece.” I came up with this idea after writing my memoir, “Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie,” as a way to extend the theme of making and sharing pie with others to make the world a better, happier place. But now, instead of driving around the USA in my RV, I will fly around the world and to teach pie making and to learn about other cultures’ types of pies. I will be an ambassador to promote what is good about America (I guess my publisher had a reason to title my cookbook “Ms. American Pie"), listen to what others have to say about their countries (and about us), and in this exchange of ideas and stories and recipes, we will build community, forge new friendships, promote cultural tolerance, eat some delicious food, and end up with…yes, world peace. What can I say? Even after all the hard knocks of life, divisive politics, unresolved geopolitical conflicts, terrorist attacks, and more, I’m still optimistic. I believe there is still goodness in the world. As humans, regardless of race, customs, or beliefs, we are all in this together. We can all get along. And I am going to roll up my sleeves and make pie dough in at least 10 different countries with people of at least 10 different nationalities to prove it. (For more on my philosophy, watch my TEDx talk about how pie can change the world.)

Like Life, Frequent Flyer Miles Have an Expiration Date. 

This idea for this trip also came about because I inherited 400,000 frequent flyer miles when my husband, Marcus Iken, passed away in 2009. I had been saving those miles for this big undertaking — and god knows, I’ve been talking about it for years now — but the thought of how much energy (and money) it would take made just want to stay in bed! There were questions and fears keeping me awake at night: where would I go, how would I navigate new cities, would I be lonely, would I be able to sustain the pace of intercontinental travel? Plus, I hated the idea of leaving my dog, Jack, for three months — I can barely be apart from him for three hours — especially after losing my other dog, Daisy, so tragically in November. But those miles I’ve been saving for the past five years were about to expire and the airlines, like life, offer no grace period or extension. I’ve been spending the past few months resting up (as it turns out). And Jack has an ideal place to stay — he is going to “summer camp” on a friend’s farm in Iowa. Life is short. I am facing my fears. It’s time to head out into the big, beautiful, crazy, chaotic world and get busy. I’m setting forth in June. And I will be sharing the journey with you as I go.


Go West, Young Man. And then keep going. 

USA June 2
My route starts from Los Angeles, surely with a tearful goodbye to my parents. (I will have already bawled my eyes out saying goodbye to Jack.) I head west, and will keep going until I come full circle. I don’t have every minute planned out, but here are some of my goals with lots of leeway for the inevitable developments along the way. Please feel free to contribute suggestions and contacts! 

NEW ZEALAND June 4 to June 14
For my first leg, I fly to Auckland, New Zealand, to meet my Facebook friend, Grace Bower, in person. A knitter of prayer shawls and supporter of authors, her generosity embodies the spirit of pie. Grace symbolizes how this trip is more about connecting with people than collecting trophy destinations or checking places off a bucket list. We are going to make pies and bring them to the library for a gathering of locals. And I know Grace is already busy organizing (or organising, as they say in NZ) more activities. Even if I never went anywhere besides NZ, this stop alone would make the mission complete. But….it’s a big world out there. So I will keep going.

AUSTRALIA June 14 to July 24
In Sydney, Australia, I will reconnect with my Aussie friend, investment banker and athlete, Kate, and another friend, Foong, who I know from living in Germany back in 2003 (we met in Intermediate German class.) Foong, who is Malaysian, married to a German, and living in Australia, is a true Global Citizen. Instead of making pie, I could just write a biography about her and call it “World Piece.” We’ll make apple pie and I’ll learn about meat pies, and surely much, much more. 

THAILAND June 24 to July 4
From Australia I go to Bangkok, Thailand. I spent three months traveling around Thailand when I was 22. This time I’m not going as a backpacker; I’m going as….as an adult. What happened? How did 30 years go by so fast? I don’t have much in place here yet, but I have a dear friend there who is a rock star hotel marketing exec and I have a feeling she’ll get me oriented. I am hoping to teach a pie class to a community of underprivileged youth, provided we can find oven space. I was just reminded that there is no baking in Thai cuisine — i.e.: no ovens. But that’s exactly the thing that will make this such an adventure!

INDIA July 4 to July 14
I’ve always wanted to go to India but didn’t think I could handle the…shall we say, overstimulation. I definitely didn’t want to go alone. But pie has a way of making me do things I wouldn’t normally do. Pie makes a good traveling companion and instills a kind of courage that comforts and assures me that everything will be okay. So I’m landing in Mumbai (at night) and…well, I have no idea of my agenda yet but I know I want to learn how to make samosas — and teach the beautiful people there, rich and poor alike, how to make apple pie.

LEBANON July 14 to July 24
From India, I fly to Beirut, Lebanon, with a five-hour stopover in Cairo. Because the round-the-world ticket only allows so many stopovers I won’t get to explore Egypt, the birthplace of pie, or see the pyramids (unless they are visible from the plane), but at least my feet will get to touch that red, electrified, ancient African soil — the cradle of mankind where all this madness started. In Beirut, I will spend 10 days with cookbook author, photographer, and social activist, Barbara Massaad. She was one of the original anchors to this trip and while it is tricky to get to Lebanon — and the US suggests avoiding it — this stop underscores everything about my mission as it’s all about using pie to spread goodwill and promote peace.

GREECE July 24 to July 29
Then it’s on to Athens, Greece, where I will track down the first-ever recorded pie recipe, which was written on a stone table. Even if it is only a myth, it will be fun searching for it — and eating spinach and goat cheese pie along the way.

GERMANY (AND OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES) July 29 to August 27
From Greece, I will go to Germany, using it as a base so I can travel around “The Continent” during the month of August, taste-testing as many pie-like pastries as possible. I hope to teach a pie class in the German Black Forest village where Marcus and I got married. I’m pretty sure the priest and his family are still there at that 1,000 year-old cathedral. And I’m sure they would love some American apple pie. Saving the hardest thing for last, I will culminate my journey with a visit to Marcus’s grave outside of Stuttgart, as a way to say thank you for making this experience possible. Yeah, that’s definitely going to be hard.

USA August 27
And finally, at the end of August, I will fly back to the USA. My hope is to return invigorated and not depleted, to have gained new friends but not too much weight, and to turn all this into a book that will inspire others to embrace their neighbors and make the world — starting with their own little corner of the planet — a better place.

AND BEYOND…
There are so many more places I would like to go, but I hope this will be a good representation. I have already taught pie making to many walks of life in many parts of the world: to a group of businesspeople in Tokyo, Japan; to a TV producer and her young son in London, England; to my Mexican neighbors in Saltillo, Mexico; to school kids in a South African township; and, of course, all over the USA. I figure this itinerary (which is now unchangeable except for the dates) is a good start. And maybe after the three-month trip is over, I will keep going. South America, West Africa, China, Russia, Mongolia, Philippines, the list is long!

The effectiveness of “World Piece” has already been proven. 

Read my blog post about the class I taught to kids in a South African township. Imagine how many more stories like this are out there waiting to be told. I can already see the smiles and hear the laughter. Pie knows no language barriers. But “World Piece” isn’t just about teaching; it’s about learning. Here’s an example of the cultural exchange I had in Mexico, learning how to make tortillas — and eat hot sauce without damaging my mouth.

You can be part of the journey too. 

When you give of yourself to make others happy, it in turn makes you happy. Pie is an ideal vehicle for spreading that happiness. If you’d like to contribute to the project, there are some easy ways you can help — and any little bit of support (moral or otherwise) would be greatly appreciated. Here are some things that I will need:

Contacts in my destinations — If you know of a group I can teach, a type of pie I should try, a couch I can sleep on, or a must-see place along my route, please email me directly at beth (at) theworldneedsmorepie (dot) com

T-shirt, Apron and Gift Sponsor — I’d like to bring gifts to leave behind, like “World Piece” T-shirts or aprons or…I’m open to ideas

HD Video Camera — to document the trip — and a lesson in how to use it. Better yet, someone to come along with me to do the filming.

Donations for Ingredients (flour, butter, apples, sugar, cinnamon) — I will be buying them locally in each place. Your support will make it possible for more people to participate.

Donations for Pie Supplies — I won’t be able to haul a bunch of rolling pins and bowls around the world, so I plan to collect the necessary supplies at each destination and then leave them behind so the community can keep using them. If you are in one of my destinations, I could use your help physically getting these. If you want to contribute funds to help buy supplies, that would be good too. –Pie tins
–Pie boxes
–Rolling pins
–Pastry scrapers
–Paring knives
–Scissors
–Large mixing bowls
–Pastry brushes
–Aprons

Sponsor a Pie for $5 — Whether you pitch in for one pie or 20 pies, any funds will go toward pie ingredients for pies we give away. And if you know me, then you know how much I like to give pie away. Pie is meant to be shared! Free slices for all!

Sponsor a Pie Student for $5 — My goal is to bring pie-making to people who may not have the means to buy the ingredients, young and old alike. I’m currently looking for food sponsors, like local grocery store chains in each destination, but your support will help too. To make it easier to contribute, here’s a little button to donate through PayPal.


Here’s where to find me on social media. Come along for the ride! 

Like my Facebook page, The World Needs More Pie, to follow the journey

Follow me on Twitter — @worldneedspie — Hashtag #WorldPiece

Look for stories here on my blog — The World Needs More Pie

Instagram — TheWorldNeedsMorePie

YouTube — TheWorldNeedsMorePie channel

Pinterest — worldneedspie

Pie Facts 

Pie was created long before America was discovered. Its origins date back to Egypt during Roman times when crust was used to preserve and transport meat.

The first known recorded pie recipe was in Greece, a cheese and honey pie.

Pie is defined as anything held in a crust. Some kind of pie can be found in virtually every country, many are savory and small like meat pies in Australia, pasties in England, calzone in Italy, empanadas in Mexico, samosas in India.

In Bulgaria, there is a patron saint of pie. His name was Saint Ivan of Rila who gave pies to the poor. Every August and October at the Rila Monastery there is a festival to commemorate his good deeds.