What does travel mean to you?

+ Magnolia Bakery's banana pudding recipe

In today’s newsletter: Gloria Steinem, banana pudding, and the love of travel. This month, a portion of the profits from paid newsletter subscriptions will be donated to Girls Write Now. Previous organizations we’ve supported include Women for WomenHeart of Dinner & Black Mamas Matter. If you’ve found your way here but are not yet subscribed, let me help you with that:

Recently, I was asked the question: What does travel mean to you? 

In many ways, I both love and detest this question. I love it because I have painstakingly structured my life around the altar of travel for over a decade. I dreamt of one day becoming a travel writer the way one might dream of one day winning the lottery.

At the time, I was working in advertising and would scurry to my computer in between meetings to read about the Bajo People of Wakatobi or to daydream about riding a riverboat in Borneo. At night, I’d stay up trying to trace a line between where I currently was in my career and where I hoped to go. My insatiable love for travel unfolded in the corners of my life like a sordid affair.

It was never enough for me to satiate my appetite for travel with a few trips a year. I wanted to work within the travel space and dedicate my life to inspiring others to travel often. The day I finally managed to cross over—or as my favorite Italian word puts it: “attraversiamo”—was the day I donned the bonafide title of travel editor. 

What does travel mean to me? 

Like I said, I both love and detest the question. I detest it because it seems impossible to encapsulate in mere words just what and how much travel means to me. Anything less of spilling my soul on paper seems prosaic. But, I’ll give it a try. 

In short, travel is the golden thread that has carried me throughout my life. Travel has both shaped me into the person I am, shaped my career into what it is, and has irrevocably altered the course of my life. My first solo trip to Argentina is when I gathered the strength to call off my wedding to the wrong man. The first time I flew to Colombia as an adult, was the first major byline I had as a freelance travel writer. The time I went to Indonesia is when I decided to leave my career in advertising and try to become a travel editor.

A train ride through India is where I found the inspiration to start my own women’s travel magazine. A getaway in Belize is what led me to adopt my dog, Chico. An impromptu adventure through London and Paris is where I fell in love with the man I’ve now been with for six years. An assignment in Bogotá is where I interviewed ex-Farc fighters and realized my full potential as a reporter. Without travel, I don’t know who I would be or what I’d be doing. In short, travel means everything to me. What does travel mean to you? Tell me below!

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Gloria before Gloria Steinem

Yesterday was the iconic Gloria Steinem’s 87th birthday, which had me thinking about the very first issue of Unearth Women. For that issue, we had the honor of publishing one of Gloria’s essays from her first trip to India. The year was 1957 and at the time of this particular essay, Gloria was a young woman, fresh out of Smith College, and visiting India for the very first time. This was Gloria before she became the icon, Gloria Steinem.

The next two years spent in India would profoundly shape Gloria, and inspire much of her future activism. She would apply Mahatma Gandhi’s organizing principles to American feminism, would visit villages cordoned off by India’s government, and connect with local women. In Gloria Steinem’s own words, we get a glimpse into the mindset of young Gloria during her first visit to India as a Western woman.

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Last week I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine up in White Plains, about a 30-minute trip outside of NYC. On my way home, I found myself getting off the train at Grand Central Station. In pre-pandemic days, passing through Grand Central was a common occurrence but on this particular day, it was a real occasion. I hadn’t set foot inside Grand Central in months and so, I decided to mark both the moment and celebrate my vaccine with a banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery.

For those unfamiliar with Magnolia Bakery, it’s an iconic shop in New York that specializes in cakes, pudding, and cupcakes frosted with a distinctive swirl. Apparently, the bakery gained a cult-like following back in the 90s after a cameo on Sex and the City. Today, the bakery is ubiquitous in New York. From Grand Central to Rockefeller Plaza to the Upper West Side, you can find a Magnolia Bakery with a line of tourists out front in just about every neighborhood in Manhattan.

The thing to order from Magnolia Bakery is their banana pudding. Now I am not a pudding connoisseur, nor have I had pudding since…maybe 8th grade, but this pudding is fluffier and creamier than any pudding I remember having. The bananas and Nilla cookies embedded within the pudding are soft without being mushy. The pudding itself is sweet without being too sweet. When I finished my banana pudding, I found myself going back to those flavors and craving more. This is when I realized that Magnolia Bakery RELEASED their banana pudding recipe to the masses last year. You can guess what I did next.

This week I made the iconic Magnolia Bakery banana pudding and am pleased to report it tastes exactly like the real deal. Now, I’m not a fan of Tik Tok but after spending enough time with my Tik Tok-obsessed little sister, I decided to post the recipe and share it. So if you want to recreate this recipe at home, click that video above.

Pudding, peloton, and an octopus

Eat a tub of homemade Magnolia Bakery pudding and then spend the rest of the week debating if you should buy a Peloton Bike after reading this article. I need some Cody Rigsby in my life. Read this rollercoaster of a newsletter by Hunter Harris, which details her impulse decision to get a chemical peel. Decide against trying out a peel and instead stick to your woman-founded vitamin C oil and retinol.

On impulse, watch the Oscar-nominated documentary, My Octopus Teacher. Observe as your thoughts go from “this man and his octopus obsession is…weird?” to “okay, octopuses (octopi?) are insanely cool” to now crying because you’re emotionally invested in the story of this octopus. Now that you’ve gotten one dose of the COVID vaccine, spend the rest of the week daydreaming about traveling and reading about vaccine passports. Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter, which will be all about the topic of vaccine passports and traveling.

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