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Curiosity & Porpoises

What do Curiosity & Porpoises have in common with food?

This is a food blog after all.  Let me weave that story together for you… like a well-loved tapestry.

When I began working as a sailing chef 5 years ago, I hoped upon hope that I would get to see dolphins and porpoises riding the bow of the boat, leaping in joy and play.  There was a part of me that wondered if this really did happen, or was it always a mere coincidence that boats would just happen to be near those marvellous creatures, so they would ‘appear’ to be playing with the boat’s wake.

I soon got my answer.

I was in my 2nd season, on a 70′ sailboat, on the shores of Northern British Columbia, with 12 guests and 4 crew including me, the cook.  It was only 1 month following the passing of my father, who so dearly loved the water, having spent most of his life fishing and establishing a wonderful summer retreat at our cottage.  I was feeling sad and nostalgic, and missing him a lot. I wondered how I was to navigate these coming weeks with this grief inside, while needing to provide nourishing food for our guests.

Then the skipper announced that he saw dolphins.

I merely saw a bit of splashing about in the far distance.  Clearly he has an eye for this.  However, looking through my binoculars, I could see many, many small splashes, preceded by tiny leaps of shiny black and white – Pacific White-Sided Dolphins!  They were feeding along the shoreline, a steep rock face dipping into deep waters.

We slowly approached, staying a fair distance away and alongside them to watch.  What a spectacle! There were so many of them … perhaps 300-400.  After about 5 minutes or so, 10-12 of them came over to the boat, which was pacing back and forth at a slow to medium speed – perfect for dolphin play.  And lo and behold, that’s exactly what they did!  They split up on either side of the boat, and swam with the bow’s wake, leaping over the waves and over each other, in what appeared to be pure joy.  They came to US!  I was so very moved, and somewhat astounded that they were curious about us and/or the boat, and that they sought out some fun in the midst of their feeding.  We continued this back and forth, with them playing for about 30 minutes!! I was in heaven.

The sun was beginning to turn the sky that pink-orange hue…

…indicating we needed to get to our evening destination and have our own dinner. As we turned to leave, the ENTIRE pod turned toward us and came over, surrounding our boat.  All 300-400 of them!  They played and lept and splashed all around us for a full 4 1/2 minutes (I recorded it, but so sadly lost the recording when I dropped my phone in the sea later that season).  Then as if on cue, they all returned to their feeding spot.

It was a life-changing farewell spectacle.

The view from the galley window of one lucky sailing chef.

I remember reflecting on the fact that during that whole time, I felt pure joy.  How was this possible in the midst of my grief?  It turns out you can feel more than one emotion at any given time of one’s life, and often they can be seemingly opposing ones.  We are wired for all the feels… not just the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ ones.  And those reminders, the ones where we think back to a joyful moment with a loved one, or of 300 dancing dolphins.. they come from the same place. They never go away, they just wait for the next opportunity to be uncovered and re-discovered.

Chalkboard art on the sailboat menu board.

Yes, that is all about dolphins and curiosity – not porpoises.  However, it has been over the last 5 years or so that I have more deeply leaned into my purpose, and well, porpoise is just such a joyful pun, I couldn’t help it.

My career in food began with a curiosity as well.

How can I feed myself with love and nourishment, and still enjoy the taste? How can I share this with others?  How can food and eating be fun and beautiful and exciting?

This idea has grown from a seed planted long ago.  That’s how it works – you never really know where it will take you, or what it will look like.

And where it has taken me, is to the land of book-writing.

What it will look … that is still to be determined.  Just know that it will include gorgeous recipes, explorations of self-love, and a re-imagining of how we see our relationship with food.

 Here’s a recipe to whet your appetite.

Fresh Lemony 2-Bean Hummus











There are only 3 rules for hummus: 1. use a bean or legume, 2. add any flavours you like, and 3. make sure the veggies you serve with them are fun to eat! This hummus has white beans and chickpeas, seasoned with lemon and garlic.  You can use the other half cans of beans on a salad, or in a soup.  You could easily add a fresh herb – such as basil, dill, parsley or cilantro.  Mix in some chopped kalamata olives, or roasted red pepper.  Add some chill oil or chipotle pepper for some heat.  Sprinkle the top with hemp hearts or roasted pine nuts, or some edible flowers.  Use cookie cutters to make stars and heart shapes!

Makes 2 cups

1/2 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 can white cannellini or white kidney beans
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp tahini
Juice from 1-2 lemons (depends how lemony you want it!)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp cumin (optional)

  • Blend all ingredients in a food processor or mash by hand if you want a chunkier hummus and a workout!
  • Serve with artfully displayed vegetables, preferably some that you find at your local farmer’s market.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


My Dad in his later years, taken at a bird sanctuary where he used to love going while the geese were being fed corn cobs.

2 Responses to Curiosity & Porpoises

  1. Isabelle Andre

    So talented. You’re dad would be so proud of you, or should I say he IS very proud of you.
    Your writing is beautiful.
    Write that book! You can do it girl !
    Can’t wait to read it.

    • Carmen

      Thank you aunt Isabelle!! I think of him so much when I’m out on the boat, and I know he is with me, smiling and cheering me on.

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