When San Diego resident Allan Karl found himself at a fork in the road of his life: out of a job and alone, his marriage recently ended in divorce, he decided to sell nearly everything he owned and set out to pursue his passion and follow his dream. He hopped on his motorcycle and spent the next three years traveling around the world–alone.
Karl’s new book “FORKS: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection” chronicles his 62,000 mile journey on five continents and brings his adventure to life through stories of culture and connection, photography and recipes from each of the 35 countries he traveled.
My goal was to ride a motorcycle around the world—alone.
Most of my friends and family thought I was crazy to set off on such a journey—especially on a motorcycle. Many tried to persuade me to stay home or to travel by other means, but I knew traveling by anything other than a motorcycle just wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t be fulfilled by merely buying a plane ticket and then watching the world through the windows of tour buses or rental cars. No. I had to go overland by motorcycle—my motorcycle—the same bike for the entire journey.
To me, there is no better way to travel. Only on a motorcycle could I truly immerse myself in and taste the diverse cultures of our world. On a bike not only would I feel the wind in my face, I would feel the temperature change, smell the unique aromas of each place, and breathe the air freely. I would also hear the sounds of our world—changes in language and dialect, like music. And I would see the faces of people and their cultures change before me.
I share this adventure and bring it to life in my new book FORKS: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection. Through the some 280 pages of this oversized coffee-table book I chronicle the adventure through stories of connection and culture, stunning photos of people and places and the flavors of local food—all from each of the 35 countries I traveled.
I didn’t set out to write a book about food or a cookbook. Sure, sharing food and wine among friends has always played an important part in my life, but I did set out to discover, learn, and find truths. I knew that one day I would share these truths and discoveries in a book, but well into my journey and the many meals I shared, it finally hit me over dinner in a small town on an island in Bahia, Brazil, with my new friend and host Felipe. That’s where I tasted my first moqueca (a delicious stew made from coconut milk, fresh fish, herbs, and dende, a remarkable aromatic oil made from the fruit of a palm tree; on page 113 in my book “FORKS”). While talking about the moqueca, Brazil, and Felipe’s life on that island, it occurred to me how much we learn when we take the time to share a meal with strangers or good friends alike, and how local flavors and aromas tell as much about a place and its culture as do the customs by which it is prepared, served, and shared.
Just like the fattoush salad I shared with the owner of a gas station and his friends in Syria, across from the farm where many of the ingredients were grown, the recipe of which I’m sharing now with you. Yet, it was in Syria, as I enjoyed connecting with new friends, did I truly discovered the magic of this crisp staple salad—local ingredients and fresh mint. Be sure to prepare this with the highest quality olive oil in order to truly enjoy the fresh flavors of this dish. Serve this colorful salad on a large flat platter and, instead of individual plates, simply dig your forks in together and share.
Fattoush – Crisp Salad with Fresh Herbs and Pita Strips (Syria)
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded (if necessary), and cut into 1/4″ dice
2 large pitas (preferably pocketless, Mediterranian-style), cut into 3/4″ square pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, premium quality
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4″ dice
1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons stemmed and finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon stemmed and finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons stemmed and finely chopped mint leaves (save a few sprigs for garnish)
Hearts of romaine, hand torn, rinsed and spun dry, for garnish
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably from sheep’s milk (optional)
1/8 cup pitted kalamata olives (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place the diced cucumber into a strainer, sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the pita pieces on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven until crisp and golden brown, about 20 minutes, shaking the pan 2 or 3 times as they toast. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. (If you’re preparing outdoors, you can toast the pita pieces until crisp and brown in a basket or skillet on a grill or over a fire.)
- Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Continue whisking until the dressing is emulsified, then stir in the bell pepper, tomato, green onions, parsley, cilantro, mint, pita strips, and cucumber. Season to taste with more salt and pepper and toss well to coat.
- Gently toss in feta and olives, if using, and transfer to a large platter garnished with the romaine and the mint sprigs. Serve immediately.
Three Years. Five Continents. One Motorcycle.
Author: Allan Karl
Published by WorldRider Productions
Hardcover, color; 280 pages
When not traveling somewhere around the world on his motorcycle, author and adventurer Allan Karl is a professional speaker and digital marketing consultant. He lives in north San Diego county with his cat Dar and his motorcycle.
Autographed Copies: www.forksthebook.com
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