As we enter our 25th year of Ginkgo Press and Eat Smart Culinary Travel, we will devote a part of our blog to tell the stories of its team. We begin with Joan Peterson, Founder and President.
I have had the great fortune to travel extensively around the world. Surely the most amazing stint occurred in the early 70s. I was a part of a USO college group sent overseas to entertain the military during the Vietnam War. The shows we presented were written and staged by my husband, who was a professor of theatre and music at the University of WI-Madison, as well as a playwright. For a period of 4 months in the Pacific Rim and 2 months in the Caribbean, we played to audiences at military bases and various other locations, including several islands, where the military maintained business contracts.
These USO tours gave us ample opportunity to explore the countries we were in, since we only performed one show a day, and that was invariably at night. This left the daytime for exploration.
My husband and I were attracted to the colorful food markets, both indoor and outdoor ones, since we had become interested many years earlier in the cuisines of foreign countries and the new and unusual (to us) ingredients used in cookery around the world. The markets we particularly enjoyed were packed with vendors, each with a stall displaying a remarkable array of products. There always was a considerable amount of buying and selling activity, much of it quite boisterous, and I never tired of photographing these food stalls.
Our interest in international food can be traced back to membership in the University of Wisconsin League’s Foreign Foods interest group. Members and their spouses dined monthly on the cuisine of a foreign nation, each having cooked one of the meal’s courses. Members were just as enthused about choosing the countries as they were about planning the meals.
A real bonus for me was that my husband became quite fascinated with cooking and took over the kitchen on a daily basis. This was also prompted by my inability to come home from the university in time to make dinner. I was a graduate student in science, and many of my experiments would not be completed until late in the evening--and there were two children to feed.
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