“Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change” – Heraclitus
I have been a reader as long as I can remember.
Encouraged I believe by my father, who smuggled me into the local library on Adults only nights. There I was, a five-year-old scurrying into the children’s corner and roaming the shelves alone and in silence.
Despite the rules, Mrs Beech, the librarian, always stamped my books with a slight smile part privy to the secret.
Since then I have had this thing with books and libraries, books shops and news stands. You could say it is a fixation and an ongoing obsession with words and what happens when they are strung together.
I chase words not only in the usual places but on wrappers, signs, tickets, on buildings, hoardings, travel brochures, DIY pamphlets, online blogs, credits in movies, labels, packets, where to them words is limitless and their meanings unequaled.
It doesn’t take much leap of imagination to see that quite possibly reading a lot can lead to writing a lot for a hundred and one reasons.
Letters, diaries, recipes, rhymes, children’s stories, instructions, are any writer’s way into creativity so that at a certain juncture in my life I set myself the task to become a real writer or more tangibly, an interviewer.
And in doing so, I purposely chose a certain niche that grew out of a passion and interest and spent some years writing about florists and their jobs.
I wrote for Floral Design and Garden magazines in Belgium, the USA, New Zealand and Australia, animated and emboldened by meeting and interviewing florists across the world. This was made easier by the fact that I lived in the United States, Japan and New Zealand besides Belgium apart from traveling and visiting many places over the last three decades.
I broadened my work by writing press releases, biographies, product design notes and forewords in Florists books which led in November 2015 to the culmination of publishing my floral magnus opus, Formidable Florists, published with Belgian publishers Lannoo.
For this book, I interviewed and curated the work of 27 florists worldwide who I view as important and influential leaders in floristry (lest they be overlooked by Trending Social Media, Pinterest and contemporary stylists).
But after climbing my mountain top in this botanical niche, I wanted change.
I decided I would like to work through another passion. One that like my interest and focus on Florists began as a consequence of living in Belgium.
It is a country where as a cultural norm, bon vivants are in abundance. A country where every other person is to some degree an experienced and authoritative foodie.
Discussion may centre on how food is gathered, prepared and eaten, whether at home, or eating out is a practiced art. People relish the conversation about making, presenting and tasting the result’s of eating a meal either in your mother’s kitchen or at a restaurant table.
The discussion and criticism that follows is part of a Belgian’s well being, a serious and enjoyable passion.
A lunch plate is as important as a twenty course degustation menu and home cooks create like angels.
Knowing the best friethoek (shop selling french fries), the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker and the wine merchant, is valued above rubies.
My introduction to years of this kind of adventure and pleasure began with a memorable long lunch at Roger Souvereyns.
This experience became forever a benchmark which was followed by other young and clever chefs cooking in Belgium and beyond.
A chef’s or cook’s work, like a writer, a florist or any other creative, begins with an education, inspiring teachers, personal philosophy, a mantra and a developed and evolving style.
The choices they make, the places they work and greet us in, are as every bit as absorbing as writers story telling from the first to the last page, as enthralling as a florist’s handmade bouquet or large scale installation.
Through Notes from Far and Away I will write about people who create things to eat and will include those who work hand in hand with famous, fine or humble chefs and cooks wherever I might find them.
I will write about those who grow, garden, catch fish or carry, preserve, or provide ingredients for cooks to use. And not forget those that help bring to the plate or table, anything from knife to napkin, plates, to table tops.
I mean to find the words to write about whatever catches my fancy, my eye, my curiosity.
I am a reader who writes.
Don’t miss Isabel’s illuminating discussion with Belgian-born Los Angeles resident Delphine Lippens who designs ceramics and whose works pop up in every other Food magazine in the USA.