Posts by Natasha Tynes

Assimilation: The journey of a thousand miles starts with ‘Snooki’

I just got back from an eight-day trip to California where I embarked on a journey of discovery. As an East Coaster, I wanted to understand that foreign part of the country, home to the “chilled”, the “pot-smokers,” the outdoor enthusiasts, and the technology-savvy.

My husband and I along with friends we stayed with and met along the way, traveled from the deep south of California all the way to San Francisco. I saw and learned a great deal. I saw pot smokers on Venice Beach and Haight Ashbury. I yelled with the joy to the sight of seals swimming to the shore on La Jolla Beach. I visited Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. I learned about the intricacies of the Hollywood culture in LA, and drove around celebrity homes in Beverly Hills.

Medica Marijuana in Venice Beach, California

I saw this journey of discovery as part of my Americanization, of my deep understanding of the country that I now call home, the country that granted me citizenship and provided me with many things that I remain grateful for. But while on the trip, my friend who uses the alias Jameed, jokingly told me while we were running around LA: “You are not assimilated, you are too busy eating Hummus and pita bread.”

His comments came in response to my failure to engage in conversations about popular culture, or to be more specific about the increasingly popular American reality TV shows.

I had no idea who “Snooki” was. (For those unassimilated like myself, Snooki is a star of an MTV reality TV show called Jersey Shore). I also had no idea that Kim Kardashian had sisters, and even failed to recognize the names of Lady Gaga’s latest songs (Knowing the song Telephone didn’t save me). I also couldn’t recognize many of the names of celebrities that my friends were tossing around when we went to visit their presumed houses in Beverly Hills with the help of the famous “celebrity map”.

My friend’s joke about my lack of assimilation hit me like a brick wall. After years of me trying to make it in this county, by getting a job, buying a house, voting in the primaries and even joining interest groups on Meetup. com, apparently I’m still not there yet. Mind you, my friends who knew all about Snooki include a PHD-holder, a business owner, an electrical engineer, a famous author and a pharmacist. Yes, they are the smartest, highly educated, and obviously completely assimilated.

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco

My friend’s comment about my lack of assimilation brought memories when I ran into Renee Zellweger at a Starbucks in New York a few years ago and instead of jumping up down and saying: “OMG, this is Renee Zellweger!”, I approached her and told her: “You look familiar, are you on TV?” I completely blanked out on her name. I just knew she was on TV. Another incident that comes to mind proving my “lack of assimilation” per say is when two people asked me about my reaction to the marriage break-up of Kate and her husband (sorry can’t remember his name) from Kate and someone Plus Eight TV show and of course, I had no idea what they were talking about.

So here, you have it, I’m not assimilated, but really when do those assimilated people have the time to keep up with the integration process when we are all busy with our daily rat race. How do they do it? Do they live a life similar to mine? Do they come back home at 7:00 PM and cook dinner while listening to NPR?

Do they check their Twitter feed and keep up with their followers while worrying about their Klout Score as much as they worry about their credit score? Do they fall asleep on the sofa while trying to watch the latest episode of Law and Order (here is some assimilation for you).

Maybe, maybe not. I really don’t know. All I know is that I have to do something about it. I have plans: I will do the assimilation my way: I will update my RSS feed to include some entertainment blogs. I will stop listening to the oldies on the radio and switch to DC mainstream music channel, DC 101. I will also Google “Jersey Shore” to see what the fuss is all about.

I have many plans. I need to stop living on the fringe, with my head buried in my daily shenanigans. Apparently traveling thousands of miles to California to consummate my assimilation process is not enough. I definitely need to know who Snooki is.

 

Forget Wikileaks for a bit and ponder this: Social media journalism

While many are arguing nowadays whether Wikileaks is a new kind of journalism, and whether journalists should learn from its founder Julian Assange or just stay away from him as much as possible, I want to discuss a new kind of journalism that has knocked my socks off: Social Media journalism.

This is a term I coined after reading a heart-wrenching Washington Post story about a DC area-based family who had to endure a tragic circumstance after the birth of their baby boy. I’m not going to ruin the story for you, but the most fascinating part for me was the format in which this story was told. The journalist who told the story chose a “Facebook format” in which he narrated tear-jerking events using real Facebook status updates that were written by the family members who were involved in the story.

After each update or comment, the author added factual information to make the story complete by explaining for example how the couple in this story met and how they relate to the people that they have as “friends” on their Facebook page.

The Facebook story format. Credit: Washington Post.

I’m not usually the emotional type, but after I read the story I did in fact tear up a bit.The reason for this is simple: the story hit close to home because it used a format that I use on a daily basis to interact with my family and friends: Facebook. By doing so, the author gave the people involved in the story a real life feel.They were not just faceless names mentioned in a newspaper article. They were people who had friends and family who “liked” their news and “LOL” ed their updates and “shared” their links.

This story wouldn’t have the same effect on me personally if it was written in a regular print format. I would have simply thought something along the lines of “How sad” and resumed checking my Tweetdeck Twitter updates.

After reading the story, I couldn’t stop thinking about the impact this social media format can have if let’s say it was used to tell the stories of war victims, or victims of violence or even honor crimes. I might be day dreaming here but these social media formats could probably prompt the audience to lobby to stop certain wars, or create tougher laws to punish those who commit honor crimes. Imagine how important the role of journalism would become in this case as it will improve or even save lives. Does Wikilieaks revelations have the same impact? Maybe, maybe not.I’m still not sure of that, but what I’m sure of is that such social media journalism format has made me shed a tear or two.

Journalism is not dead, long live journalism

Lately, I’ve been driving my husband crazy. I’m always distracted. My mind is simply elsewhere. I’m presently living “on planet Natasha,” to quote his description of my current state of mind. The reason is simple. There is so much innovation going on in the realm of digital journalism and its integration with social media that I’m both overwhelmed and elated. What’s happening in the online journalism arena is so cutting- edge, so creative, and extremely crucial in improving the current human condition that I’m constantly monitoring and watching (sadly, to the exclusion of other things in my life). Really, can you blame me for being distracted in this age of round-the-clock digital innovation?

Contrary to the popular belief that journalism is dying (yada, yada, yada), I think journalism is in its best shape ever. It’s not dying, but rather evolving. The old format of journalism might be dead, but the new one is so fresh and promising that the even the sky is not the limit.

Journalism graduates: Do not fear the future, embrace it!

As someone whose career is in media development, watching trends and monitoring new journalism innovation is what I do on a daily basis, believe me when I tell you that journalism is at the forefront of  digital novelties continuing to further advance the quality of people’s lives everywhere.

One new journalism “tool” that I have been experimenting with is “social curation” using  storify. The idea behind it is really simple: Editors of newspapers, websites or anyone can use this tool to search social media tools for a certain topic, then filter the best items, whether they were tweets, Facebook updates, Flickr, etc, to create a story that can be embedded on a website.

Here is one example. I created a search term for ARJI conference (Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism) which is currently taking place in Amman. I chose what I thought were the best social media items and created a story here. Now I can easily embed the story on my blog like this:

Now, the neat thing is that I can go back to this story anytime and update it with any new development and then republish it. The embedded code will update itself automatically without me needing to overwrite it. This kind of innovation is a real gift for website editors who are constantly following breaking news and gauging the community response to a certain event.

Storify has been making waves lately and harnessing a good amount of coverage in the media (here is one example). The creators behind Storify believe that they are building “the future of publishing” by “finding meaning in the noise”. It is a pretty neat idea if you ask me. Here is a an interview with the two founders of Storify:

This is only one of the latest innovative tools currently found in the playground of online media. Recently, social media blog Mashable ran an article about how investigative journalism is prospering thanks to social media. The amount of tools and new creations by and for journalists is simply mind-boggling.

With that in mind, do you really blame me for being distracted all the time? Journalism is not dead. Long live journalism.

Jordanian Christians are in a fine shape but still a ‘minority’

The most recent horrific attack on Christians in Iraq struck a personal cord with me. Of all the attacks happening daily in Iraq, this one somehow hit home. It might have been the way the worshippers were ambushed during Sunday mass and then slaughtered that’s causing me to lose sleep. It is horrifying to realize that the only reason these Iraqis were butchered was because they belonged to the wrong religion. Being the over-dramatic type, I couldn’t stop thinking about my family in Jordan and wondering what if?

Iraqi Christians mourning their dead. Source (Reuters).

What if they were worshiping at a church in Amman and something similar happens. Al-Qaeda members seem to manage to cross borders so easily these days that a similar attack in Jordan might not be that remote. I know I’m probably going over the top since these things don’t normally happen in Jordan even after the Al-Qaeda-inspired attacks of 2005. But I did think about it, and for a brief moment I panicked.

This horrific massacre of Iraqi Christians has stirred debate of a potential exodus of Christians from the Middle East, with media outlets like Foreign Policy (The End of Christianity in the Middle East) and Voice of America (Al-Qaida Threatens Christians in Egypt, Elsewhere in Middle East) both drawing a very gloomy picture of Christians in the region.

The London-based Arabic publication Elaph also discussed the issue and highlighted this distinct fact: Jordan has become a safe haven for Christians in the region, including Iraqi and Palestinian Christians that are feeling extremism in their home countries.

The article also quoted a piece in the Independent by Robert Fisk in which he referred to Jordan as “the only flame of hope in the region” when it comes to the situation of Arab Christians.

Yes, Jordanian Christians are in a superb position compared with the rest of the region. No one denies this. Coexistence is the name of the game, with many Jordanian Christians occupying senior positions in the government and parliament. Christians and Muslims live in the same neighborhoods and in some cases interact as members of the same family.

However, I don’t think Jordan is completely off the hook. The fact that a Jordanian Christian can’t become a prime minster is a problem that should be resolved sooner than later. The former head of the Jordanian parliament, Abdul Hadi Majali, was actually asked about it in an interview with an Arab Satellite channel. His response was the “minority” can’t rule the majority.

Another fact still affecting Jordanian Christians is the issue of inheritance, where Sharia law still applies to them. The male sibling takes double the share of his sisters and male relatives take a share of the daughters’ inheritance in the absence of a male sibling.

Since I have a big mouth, I have discussed these ticklish issues with many of my friends and coworkers when I lived in Amman. The answer I got most of the time was that Jordan is a Muslim country and we can’t change the rules for a “minority.” Throwing the “minority” label at me never made me feel special, to the contrary, it made me feel like a pariah. I used to respond with: “Come on, you can’t deprive my unborn child from ever dreaming that one day he (yes, a he, she, is another story) will become prime minister. Even minorities should have equal rights.”

But that was back then, when I was young, naïve and passionate. It was back when I thought writing, talking, and arguing would take me somewhere.

I’m now a thirty-something, jaded Christian Arab who has joined the ranks of those who are in the “exodus.” I might not have lots of ground to stand on simply because I packed my bags and left. Ah well, I’m just blowing off some steam on a breezy Friday morning in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Blowing off steam is probably the most I can do at this point since I’m only a “minority”.

While young Muslims deliver flowers, the US media fails twice

While the US media was having a field day with a non-story about a fringe pastor who wanted to burn the Quran, and while Islamophobia and anti-Muslim incidents were skyrocketing including urinating in a mosque and attacking a Muslim cab driver, young Muslims in a small city in the Middle East delivered flowers to a church. This was a “gesture of peace and coexistence,” the group of young Jordanian Muslims who delivered the flowers said.

Photo credit: Thameen Kheetan - The Jordan Times

“Shall we burn a copy of the Bible as a response to that? No, this is not what should be done,” Zeid Oweidi who was among a group of ten Jordanians told reporters at the Greek Orthodox Church in Amman last week. His comments were made against the backdrop of threats by Terry Jones, the pastor of a Florida church who planned to burn copies of the Quran on the 9th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

While extremists in places like Afghanistan demonstrated violently over the planned burning of the Quran, young Jordanians last week simply walked to a nearby church following the evening prayers and delivered flowers.

Following this gesture, I received an Email from someone belonging to the Christian community in Jordan urging fellow Christians to reciprocate by delivering flowers to Muslims after Friday prayers. I guess in this case instead of violence begetting violence, goodwill begets yet even more goodwill.

Sadly, for the US media this was a non-story. Who cared about a small, stable country like Jordan? Who cared about a handful of young Muslims delivering flowers when there were others demonstrating violently? Which one would get readers’ attention, violence or flowers? Sadly, the US media chose violence. Who can compete with death and blood? The sexier always wins.

Covering this story and bringing it to the world’s attention is crucial these days. While the average American news consumer is currently being inundated with images of extremist Muslims, a small story like this one should have deserved at least a fraction of the coverage that the Florida priest fiasco received. I understand that this is not a national story and it didn’t happen on US soil but in this interconnected media sphere the location of the story doesn’t make a difference anymore. We have already experienced that. An angry mob in Beirut attacked a Western embassy in reaction to cartoons that appeared in a Danish newspaper, while demonstrators in Pakistan marched the streets in reaction to an off-beat announcement by a priest in small American city. Nowadays, every story is a global story.

The disappointing fact is that the US media failed twice in this case: first in blowing the story of the Florida priest out of proportion by giving this isolated, planned act (which never happened) more than its share of coverage, and bringing it to the attention of the global audience. The second was in ignoring acts of Muslim goodwill that would have clearly showed that while some Muslims might burn flags and effigies, there are others, like this group of young Jordanians, who would simply deliver flowers.

‘I voted’

For many, September 14 was your regular Tuesday with its heavy work load. For others it was the day when minor elections were taking place in several US states. But for me it was a milestone. It was the day I got out of my car, all dressed-up (in a grey suit and red- stripped shirt), and walked to the entrance of my neighborhood elementary school (to the sound of someone yelling “Kagan for Senate”). I walked through the long hallways and reached the operation center, where I cast my first ballot, ever, as an American citizen.

The election was the primary for the state of Maryland, and I, as an American citizen and Maryland resident, had a say in it. Yes, my lone vote could actually determine who runs this state. When I got to the registration desk the people asked for my name and asked me to confirm my party. I proudly said “Democrat.” I felt empowered to be vocal about my party affiliation, especially since where I was born, belonging to a party was not something to shout over rooftops. The word party, or Hizib in Arabic, had a bad connotation in the Middle East. It signaled membership in opposition groups, a la Muslim Brotherhood or the Communist Party. Party members were mostly seen as fringe that posed an imminent threat to the regime.

Here in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, though, it is a totally different experience. Everyone is encouraged to belong to a party to such an extent that in some states, not belonging to a party means you don’t have full voting rights in certain primaries.

When my registration was verified I was taken to the electronic voting booth by an older Asian woman. I explained to her that this was my first time voting and that I might need help figuring out how to use the machine. She told me: “Let me call my husband. He’s better at these things.” Very cute, I thought. Her husband, a senior as well, was very helpful. He showed me how to use the electronic registration card and how to eventually cast my ballot. What struck me was the fact that the man, just like me, had accented American English. Here we were: a foreign-born Asian-American man helping an Arab-American woman vote for the first time in the primary elections in the state of Maryland. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is what I call a lesson in democracy.

After I was done, I returned my electronic registration card and was given a sticker that said in both English and Spanish: “I voted/Yo vote.” I stuck it on my suitcoat and left the room. I know this might sound cliché, but I was overwhelmed. Two years after taking my oath in Baltimore I finally feel that my American citizenship has been consummated. Travelling with a US passport is only part of it. You truly come full circle as a citizen of this great county when you cast your first ballot.

I remember when Obama was running for president I was still a green card holder and couldn’t cast my ballot. On the day of the elections I was going absolutely nuts. I couldn’t focus at work and kept checking voting results online. I paced back and forth around the office like a total maniac. Eventually, I walked into my colleague’s office, who seemed really consumed by whatever work she was doing. I asked her: “Michelle, how can you do this? I’m going crazy here and you’re acting like today is just another day.” She responded: “Natasha, I voted this morning. I did my part. I feel relaxed.” That was when I realized what I was missing.

The only other time I’ve voted was in Jordan in 2003 during the parliamentary elections. I was a bit peeved because for some reason I was registered to vote in the town where my parents were born and not in the town where we resided at that time. I was not sure how the election rules worked back then but I didn’t feel that my vote would actually impact my daily existence. My vote was not going to make any difference in fixing local issues, like the constant lack of clean water or bumpy streets in our neighborhood. I did vote eventually, though, so that I could say: “I voted.”

Here, saying, “I voted,” has a totally different meaning. My vote did actually make a difference. The incumbent governor I voted for actually won the primary (Go O’Malley!). I will make sure to vote for him in the mid-term elections in November against his republican opponent.

All that said, I’ m not totally giving up hope of having a transparent, effective democratic process in the country where I was born. Unlike the early 2000’s, I see more awareness about upcoming elections in Jordan with more civic societies spreading awareness and encouraging potential voters to engage in public debates. Jordan’s upcoming parliamentary elections might be different this time. At least people are discussing them via Twitter. Now, that’s something.

Quran Burning and the US media: It’s a question of ethics

The first amendment is a genius piece of work. It gives American journalists the freedom to express and air information, it gives ordinary citizens the power to vocally criticize authority, and it also gives the priest of a small church in Florida the right to publically burn Qurans on the ninth anniversary of September 11.

Terry Jones
Pastor Terry Jones. Photo credit: AP

Although burning a holy book doesn’t legally violate the US Constitution it is a clear provocation and should be, at least in my book, defined as hate speech. This priest in Florida knows he could do this but the question really is: should he? It is the same question that I ask the American media that has managed to blow this small story out of all proportion. This story could have been briefly covered as an isolated incident happening in a small Florida town. Instead, the media grabbed it and ran. They extensively covered it, analyzed it, and brought talking heads to debate it. Yes, they have the right to publish and air whatever they wish – and expand or diminish any event but, again, should they?

A story that could have been easily forgotten has now become an event that is being watched globally. It will go down as another example of “Muslim-hating Americans.” It will be exploited by extremists in their attempts to recruit future followers. In their attempts to extensively cover Islamophobia, can journalists actually endanger American lives?

The Arabic media has slowly started to pick up the story in the same pace that they picked up the Danish cartoons story which eventually unleashed more than a few bombshells.  Here is a round up of the Arabic media coverage of the Quran burning  story.

Media practitioners should be careful when they decide whether to cover or bury a story, for today the consequences of this decision can be grave.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appealed to the media today asking them not to cover the planned burning event on September 11 “as an act of patriotism.” I don’t see shying away from giving big attention to a small story as an act of patriotism per se, but mostly as a question of ethics. But ethics, as we well know, can be elusive.

‘So, how was your summer?’

Since I moved to the US, I have gradually become one of those who dread Mondays. I don’t dread Mondays for the obvious reasons:  The start of a new hectic week, the end of a weekend, etc. I dread it because it’s the day that I have to submit my social life report first thing in the morning. It’s the day that I’m expected to find a very good answer to the most dreadful question: “How was your weekend?”

When people ask me this question (and they always do), I usually stutter, trying to find the most exciting response. It’s really nerve-racking as I have to come up with an answer along the lines of “It was great. I hiked the Appalachian Trail, and swam in the Atlantic, then had a BQQ on a boat with exciting cosmopolitan, friends who discussed the merits of eating beef from grass-fed cows.”

The sad reality is that I always fail in this instance by giving the wrong answer to this inevitable question. My answer is usually something like: “It was nice, relaxing”. Really, why impose that pressure on me? What if I spent my weekend drinking coffee, and watching reruns of Sex and the City in my Victoria’s Secret Pajamas? What if the highlight of my weekend was using Weed and Feed for the first time? Can I still submit this in the weekend report on Monday morning without eyebrows being raised and quick smiles being exchanged?

Living in a town where motivation and moving up the ladder is the name of the game, having a lame weekend would not bode well for my career. I feel tremendous pressure to fit it, to be able to concur the weekend like the rest of the Washingtonians so that I can submit a stellar report first thing on the very fist day of the working week.

The sad news is that this pressure doubles when it’s summer time, when people not only ask you about your weekend but also ask you about your summer. Now that’s when I start sweating (and not only because of the record-breaking heat). It’s usually the time of the year when people expect me to come up with answers that include words such as “Hawaii”, “Disney Land” “Beach”  “cruise” and “Europe”. See, I failed miserably this summer since I can’t provide any of the correct answers. What I did this summer was absolutely nothing. I went to work, watched reruns of Sex and the City and did projects around the house. In normal circumstances I shouldn’t feel bad about it, should I? But not here, not in this town where the brightest and the most competitive dwell. Not in this cut-throat city where high scores need to be achieved, all-year around especially during summer time. Do you see my debacle nowadays? Not only do I have to give a report about my weekend, but I also need to constantly update everyone on my progress for the whole duration of the summer (three months or more). I have to keep them updated on how exciting (or unexciting) my life is. It is a double whammy really, and I’m one of those with feeble hearts who will eventually succumb to this scary pressure and collapse.

The good news is that it’s September and summer is almost over. This means I will go to submitting only one weekly report that I usually fail. Ah, well, what can I do? You can’t have it all. And on that note, hope everyone is having a good summer!

My own food revolution

As I write this, I’m seated on a train headed back to DC from New York City. This basically means that I can’t keep making up excuses about not having time to update the blog. I do have time (four hours to be exact), and I can’t keep delaying something I wanted to share for a while. No I’m not with a child, for those who are so eager for me to procreate. The news is a major change of my lifestyle. It can simply be summarized as my own food revolution, mostly inspired by a celebrity chef.

But before I talk about the chef and his effect on me, I would like to go back in time to when the journey downhill all started. The story of my deterioration began with my first pay check. Yep, you  heard me right, it all went downhill when I got my first pay check, and decided to be fully independent by detaching myself from  my mom’s home-cooked food.

I thought dinning out and paying for whatever junk I put into my body was all it took to show that I made it into the adulthood world. So I quickly replaced mom’s Magloubeh‘s and Mlukhyeeh’s with fried chicken and big Mac’s. Please note that I’m talking about the early 90’s, the decade when Amman got introduced to the fast food industry with the advent of what I like to call the ” junk food firsts”, the first McDonald, the first Burger King, and the first Subway.

Yep, back then it was cool and hip to be seen devouring American food. It was empowering to be able to leave with my coworkers during lunch and delve into KFC’s “Zinger” and Arby’s curly fries. Yes, I made it , I thought to myself. I’m an emancipated woman who had just distanced herself from fresh produce and organic farming. Of course, that’s was when I started raking the calories, no surprise here. It was also when I started to feel lethargic, easily irritated and moody. While my downhill journey was just beginning, Amman Junk food stores kept mushrooming.

My deterioration continued for almost a decade until I decided to put an end to the fast food era. Not sure what made the first change. It might have been  my moving to a region in the US where health awareness was widespread, or it might have been the fact that I turned thirty and felt my body deteriorating. I started watching my diet and began doing some moderate exercise. This slightly improved my well-being but not to the level that was needed. I knew there was something still wrong in my eating habits. Getting rid of junk food was simply not enough, for some reason.

However,  in the past few months or so, I got a brand new inspiration. This might sound a bit cheesy and borders on the cliche, but I don’t care. My inspiration came from a TV  reality show. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a mere reality show has changed my life. The show is called Food Revolution and it is about British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who went to the most obese city in the US: Huntington, West Virginia to try o change the school’s lunch system. In his show he promotes healthy eating, and encourages the love of cooking. Nothing new, no? True, but the most striking thing for me was the issue of processed food. Yes, that was the missing link. Since I moved to the US, I had fell hard for the convenience of American living by buying whatever processed food I could find to make a quick semi-tasty meal. I thought when in Rome, buy processed. My freezer was filled with frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, potato wedges, pasta meals and others. At least, I was not eating a Whopper, I thought. Little did I know how some processed food can have even a worse impact than some of the nastiest junk food out there.

It was really until I watched this show, and realized how important whole food cooking is that I ultimately decided to make a drastic change in my life. I made a conscious decision to only eat food that is made from scratch. It was easier than I thought. I gathered all the cook books that I owed and made weekly grocery lists to achieve the goal. I didn’t stop here. I made sure to double the size of our moderate garden beds to include a large variety of vegetables that I can grow in our backyard. I rode the now yuppie wave of organic food, and even took the time to watch Food Inc.

The result was remarkable. Not only do I feel better, but  I look better. I lost almost 10 pounds mostly by focusing on wholesome food. I have to admit, cooking from scratch everyday can be a burden but the sense of sataifaction that I get after I finish any meal is usually my ultimate pay off. The most fascinating part for me was how I came full circle by actually embracing the home-cooked food that I rebelled against in my early twenties. I found myself looking for my mom’s recipes and making sure that I include them in my weekly meal planning. Yeah, yeah, mothers are always right!

Before I end this rant, I’d like to leave you with this TED talk in which Jamie Oliver talks about the show and his food revolution. I encourage everyone to watch it until the end.

Disclaimer: I never got to finish this post on the train. I got distracted and lost my inspiration. On a positive note, I managed to finish this post two days later, right after I devoured a shrimp linguini made by yours truly and yes, totally from scratch.