What is Follow the Stomach?
When your life revolves around advocating for justice, finding the best eats, and travelling to explore the world, naturally, these identities all start to intertwine and create a unique perspective. Follow the Stomach was birthed out of this mishmash of identities—a blog that brings a unique perspective on the world specifically through the lenses of food, justice, and travel.
More than your average food or travel blog, Follow the Stomach seeks to link these two common activities to justice and how travel and food can advocate for a more just and equal world. One example is seeking out sincerity in food. You may ask, “How can food be sincere?” True, sincerity is often used to describe interaction, but in many ways, is food not a form of communication? Sincerity of food looks like cooking with all of one’s heart and soul, developing a depth of flavor that is equal to a friendship of many years. Furthermore, sincerity looks like food that is true to its roots—good authentic cuisine that truly represents the culture of its home country. There is nothing worse than stepping into a restaurant intended for tourists serving forced dishes based on stereotypes. Sincerity is grabbing a bowl of noodles from a street stall and eating with the locals. Sincerity in food can lead to a fuller picture of a country’s culture, avoiding a Western, appropriated vision of what we want to see and taste. Sincerity in food also brings out the best in the ingredients. Each ingredient is used to its full flavor potential, seeking to avoid wastefulness. Just like seeking sincere food, Follow the Stomach seeks out to even further find where food, justice, and travel intersect.
People often say to “follow your heart,” but I often it is much easier to follow your stomach. The way I travel is often centered on trying the best and most authentic foods in the area. Sincere food gives a glimpse of what life is like in a different culture. I hope that this blog can help you to also follow your stomach to deeply experience culture, savor every taste, and advocate against injustice.
Who am I?
In the summer of 2014, I spent seven weeks serving in a slum community in Bangkok, Thailand. I lived among and learned from people affected by leprosy (PALs) who live with the disabilities and the social stigma of the disease. This community is created by social ostracization—PALs pushed to the side of society, unable to live, work, and interact with mainstream society. This summer spent in Bangkok made me realize the reality of poverty and social stigma. I realized the utter desolation that is caused when economic, social, and governmental oppression intersect to keep people down. I, however, also realized the humanity of the oppressed, the hope, joy, and generosity that these people hold. I realized that to bring dignity to those who are ignored is the first small step in bringing change to the impoverished. My dream is working long-term in a grassroots setting to bring change and dignity to the poor. Ever passionate about advocating for the poor, a motivation for justice always overflows into other parts of my life.
I also love to eat. I am always looking for the hole-in-the-wall joints that always cook the most heartfelt and delicious food. My vice is fried chicken, but I also love a good bowl of noodle soup (Hint: if you ever want me to do what you want, you could buy me fried chicken.) I love to share meals with others and simply share life in one of its most intimate forms.
My love for justice and food sends me ever-exploring all over the world. I have travelled to Japan, Ireland, Taiwan, and, of course, Thailand. In every country, I sought to fully immerse myself in the culture by living and learning among my hosts. I wanted to gain a holistic image of the places in which I was living, experiencing all of each country.
Why are the posts on this blog so different from each other?
While the posts may seem unrelated, what connects them is me. As I stated above, the main purpose of this blog is to interconnect food, justice, and travel. Some of the posts may solely be on travel, justice, or food, but some may connect all three. The idea is that this blog will bring all three of these concepts together in one place to create dialogue.
How big is your stomach?
Growing and growing….
Where do you find the time and money to travel?
As I am finishing up my time in college, I am slowly realizing the reality that travel is often costly in both time and money. In the past, I have fundraised or received scholarships to travel abroad. Currently learning how to budget so I can continue to travel! Let me know if you have any tips!
Where do you plan to travel next?
I plan to travel to Managua, Nicaragua to serve among the urban poor. I really can’t wait to experience a culture that is completely different from which I have immersed myself before. Oh, and I am totally excited to eat Nicaraguan food.