Friday, 17 October 2014

Grill the Foodie: Jodi Ettenberg

Our regular series “Grill the Foodie” is all about getting inside a country’s food and eating experiences from the perspective of travellers as well as expats living abroad. Why travellers and not locals? Well sometimes locals don’t know what makes their country’s cuisine so unique and wonderful they may not have any other points of reference as their own food is all they have experienced. We will delve into what makes world cuisine great and why travellers love to eat so much. We want you to be inspired by what is happening around the world, how others enjoy their food and how food can unite cultures.

I have to say I am really excited about this weeks Grill the Foodie Interview. Jodi Ettenberg is the mastermind behind the blog Legal Nomads, a great inspiration of mine. She is a one woman powerhouse quitting her career as a lawyer six years ago, embarking on an extended period of travel which has morphed into a lifestyle and career.

Reading her blog you will question your very existence, the 9-5 working lifestyle a majority of us lead and wonder if there is more out there. Jodi's writing style draws you into a destination and as her blog has evolved you can clearly see her evolution as a Foodie, although I suspect she may not strongly associate with that term it is an easy way out when talking about those who seek education and enlightenment through the food of a nation.

So let this impossibly petite Foodie, Blogger, Traveller, Lawyer, Public Speaker and all round awesome person take you on a little journey into her life and don't forget to subscribe to her blog to follow her wanderings

Your blog started out as a record of an extended trip you were taking and over the years has morphed into a food and travel blog. Have you always been a Foodie or did travelling turn you into one?

I always cared about food but I never sought to frame my experiences through the meals I ate. Travel definitely honed my focus on food exponentially.

How does the search for Foodie experiences affect the way in which you travel?

I don't search for foodie experiences. I travel and I use food as the most effective lens to learn as much as I can about a place -- its anthropology, its history, its people.

Has your Foodie lifestyle been greatly affected since your diagnosis of celiac disease?

As I said, I don't really consider my life a foodie lifestyle. Food is merely the best tool to learn from, and I try to tell stories with the things I eat. Learning is truly the focus. Yes, it's frustrating that I cannot eat much of what I want to but it doesn't prevent me from taking a food and digging into its history.

I was diagnosed way before I started travelling, so it has always been something I worked with / struggled with since I left my job.

If you could only eat one world cuisine for the rest of your life what would it be?

I love Vietnamese food because it is so varied but also quite light. You don't feel bloated or like you have eaten something heavy. It is balanced, delicious, and provides so many different options as the country's many areas have very different ways of eating.

Based on your T-Shirt line “Say No to Olives” is there any food you hate more than olives?

The t-shirt was a fun joke with readers who also disliked olives and olives are a divisive food -- people don't seem to have moderate feelings about them. So 'hate' is a strong word. Put it this way: I haven't yet found an olive I enjoyed.

I also don't love green peas but that's because I was fed mushy peas quite a bit as a child, even when I didn't want to eat them ;)

With more than 6 years on the road do you think you will ever settle back into a “normal” lifestyle?

I always find it funny that people ask. Normal is not really anything in a world where people can work where they want, in fields that did not even exist twenty-five years ago. The flexibility is there if we want it.

If I wanted to stay somewhere, I would! I've enjoyed this life, and if that changes well then I will change with it. I enjoy chasing summer and avoiding winter, and plenty to learn as I go.

How do family and friends view your lifestyle and is it more difficult to maintain bonds whilst travelling so much?

It is far easier to maintain bonds, both with family and friends. I've always had friends all around the world as I was born in Canada but lived in France, South America, and the USA. So travelling as I do enables me to meet up with old and new friends far more frequently. Technology fills in the blanks.

This lifestyle also affords me lots of time with family that is unencumbered by restrictions on vacation. For example, I used to have a week or weekend to rush back to Canada to see family, whereas now I can work from my parents' place for a few weeks at a time, taking leisurely hours to catch up.

The key is flexibility. It's what you make with that flexibility that dictates your relationships. Family and friends are important to me, and so I make sure I bake in time with them as much as I can. It's been really lovely, and I'm grateful for the prolonged time I get with people I love.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to people considering giving up their job and taking to the road on a permanent basis?

That few things ARE permanent. If it isn't for them, they can always return to something more stable. A life with a lot of uncertainty isn't for everyone, and there is no shame in realizing it's not for you.

Your blog has some world recipes on it, do you enjoy cooking food you have experienced around the world?

Yes, my mother is very happy I have learned all sorts of recipes, as when I visit her she gets to be my guinea pig!

Did your social media and blog following evolve naturally or is it something you had to work hard on and actively pursue? 

Both. It evolved naturally -- I've never pitched news coverage or media, nor bought followers -- but I do think about what I put online, and make sure it's something that I want to tie to my reputation. I've really enjoyed meeting readers via social media, and especially now using Instagram as a means of telling stories in real-time.

What country is next on your hit list for your next big food adventure?

I don't have a hit list, I just travel where opportunities arise. I'll be back in Vietnam shortly, happily reunited with my beloved pho.

Check out some of Jodi's stunning photography, to see more visit 

Originally posted on Friday, 17 October 2014 by


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