A Reflection on the book I did not write: Field Research Highlights: May 10-16, 2014

A Reflection on the book I did not write:  Field Research Highlights: May 10-16, 2014

Update:  July 2019.

I intended on writing a book on Okinawan foods while living in Okinawa.  But after I was blindsided by depression, I had to focus on getting better and making sure my family was okay.  I did get better.  Sometimes I still look at these photos and feel like I failed in some way, but I’m starting to admire my tenacity for trying, and my wisdom in stopping this project to focus on more important things.  Maybe one day I’ll write this book, or maybe I’ll just be grateful for the experience.

I do think, in retrospect, that a field study book on Okinawan cuisine written for Americans should contain a level of cultural awareness that I admittedly did not possess at the time these photos are taken.  Upon leaving Okinawa in 2017, I had resolved that I would need to spend at least a decade living in Okinawa before a book could be written.  A book that contained the understanding that this culture and place deserves, not just a quick print of local attractions and novelties.  One day, if I could, I’d live with the people and spend quality time in their kitchens.  Of course, as I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel in Germany, still responsible for raising my family first and foremost of all as my first priority – supporting my husband’s important work the second priority.

Maybe the depression that ripped me away from this project, came from a low rumbling in my spirit that was telling me, “Not now, do it better later”.  If I can graduate into a Jane Goodall / Julia Child hybrid of food research, I can see myself, white haired, exploring and understanding people on a very personal level.  Raising seven children certainly helps me understand ways of the world that modern families cannot grasp.  At least, I would not be able to grasp had I not been pushed to simplicity over thousands of days of intense work woven with intuition.  That, and a level of understanding of domesticity amid the pain and fervor of real life.  Meals, sickness, growth, struggle, and again; tenacity.

Shannon Vavich

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