“Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Those of us who embrace the journey will find a kindred spirit in chef, photographer, traveler, and inveterate wanderer Diana Basto Ferreira. We recently visited with her in Arrábida to talk about life, food and the value of vintage. We fell a little bit in love with her, and you may, too.
“There are many ways to wander. I think I engage in most of them: from job to job, hobby to hobby, place to place. I wander in reality, I wander in imagination, I wander in thoughts, sounds and silence. The constant – the essential -- is a yearning to resonate with everything.
Yet remain beholden to nothing. Except my sense of home.
My grandfather built our family home here more than fifty years ago; I’ve been coming here literally since birth.
I might travel around the world, live and work abroad from time to time, wander as much as I like, but Arrábida will always be my safe harbor.
I’m waiting for a good day to hike Serra do Risco, which is next to Serra da Arrábida. In the meantime, you can often find me after a new or full moon, on a low tide, walking along the sand flats in front of Figueirinha beach, or picking wild plants in Arrábida ́s valley.”
“Nature is majesty. Wisdom. Beauty.
But nature is not distinct from us. It IS us, if only we slow down enough to see it. BE it, in ways large and small.
Like eating – so much better in the open air than indoors. One of my favorite things to do when I wake up – other than immediately brewing a cup of coffee – is going into the garden to pick my breakfast from the trees. Depending on the season, it’s either plums, oranges or figs. We’ve planted a few more fruit trees -- avocados, raspberries, blueberries and pomegranates coming soon!
That urge to wander has led me to foraging too, although I still have so much to learn. So far, I can recognize some herbs, amongst which wild rosemary and thyme -- they make an excellent herbal tea -- a few edible flowers and a couple of berries. Mmmm...”
“The food we choose to eat is deeply intertwined with our values and the way we show up in society. But in the end, it’s simple – as I said, if only we slow down enough to understand.
Eat seasonally. Strive for variety. Rely on small quantities and yes: keep it simple. To eat seasonally is by far the best thing for many reasons, my favorite being quality. It’s nature’s way of telling you what’s best for you – and the entire ecosystem. The plant’s interests and our interests are aligned.
Choosing variety over monotony is how you get the range of nutrients, flavors, colors and textures to fulfil your biological needs and to stimulate your senses.
Eating small quantities is definitely where I struggle because I love eating so much. ”Enough is enough’ isn’t obvious to me. Sigh. I have to really think it through.
Keeping it simple means remembering that fresh ingredients don’t need a lot of transformation and additions; and when it comes to ready-made foods, the shorter the list of ingredients, the less complicated or incomprehensible, the better. But don’t for a moment give in to the urge to equate convenience with simplicity!”
“In a way, nature is timeless. Something originating in the past, magnificently relevant to the present.
When we respect what is timeless and weave it into our present, we are the richer for it.
To me, that’s what vintage is, too. It can be a piece of clothing – like this oversize jumper I’m wearing, hand-knitted for my mother when she was 18 years old. An oldies playlist. A family recipe book.
Or that Land Rover of yours out front. Vintage slows us down, inspires us, rewards us. Speaking of which: I’m ready to take it out for a spin now. How about you?”
What could we say but “yes?”