Not So Starving Artists: The Day After Thanksgiving / Ten Days Before Australia by Katie Boyts

I’d like to start by making it clear, I am exceedingly grateful we have Thanksgiving. It means that my many relatives gather in a basement of a small country church in Kansas. We, like so many other Americans, eat plates full of the most classic of Thanksgiving dishes, where cream of mushroom soup has never received a bigger, brighter spotlight.

But Thanksgiving also reminds me that gratitude doesn’t come easy to us. What other day of the year do you feel obligated to express your thankfulness for the good things in your life? In public, much less. What if every day we paused, and said out loud to our people what we are grateful for?  Maybe on the darker days we’d have to dig deep into the quotidian, but I’m confident we’d all find at least a few shimmers of gratitude, and perhaps the darkness would not be so dark afterwards. So I write this post the day after Thanksgiving aiming to extend this ritual, perhaps into the everyday.

Though I have been blatantly inconsistent in keeping this kind of gratitude practice, today it nails me to the spot, asks me to open my eyes a bit wider and decide what I really value and what could be left behind, what is vital and what is unnecessary.

These kinds of sortings and categorizing have been a requisite as a I get ready for my next venture–as you may have heard, I head off to Australia in a mere 10 days. And in the preparations it’s easy to get mired in the drama and logistics and frustrations, but pausing to contemplate what I can be grateful for, in all the realms of past, present, and future, inject an otherwise chaotic process with sanity and calm and joy.

So here’s a quick list of just a few things that have come to me as I’ve answered this question of “What are you grateful for?” (Baltimore-themed of course).

Happy-Thanksgiving-Cornucopia-3

  1. I’m really grateful my collaborator and friend Chris Attenborough doesn’t have a gluten sensitivity.

  2. Corn. Because tortillas, tortilla chips, sopes, that roasted corn covered with cojita. And yesterday reminded me – creamed corn. (Why the hell is that not on my plate like on at least a monthly basis?) Mainly though, that you can get the most perfect corn tortillas by the kilo at Tortilleria Sinaloa.

  3. That Baltimore has so many free offerings in the art realm – The Walters, The BMA, The Contemporary events, Open Walls and its plethora of murals, and CreativeMornings (ahem).

  4. The chicken pesto sandwich at Trinacria.

  5. Blacksauce biscuit sandwich at the farmer’s markets.

  6. Old Bay. Ok, if you know me, you know that I actually detest Old Bay, BUT I do feel an affection for its mere existence and the commitment that Baltimore shows it. Baltimore knows itself well, which I always love about a culture, and one of things Baltimore really does know is that it fucking loves Old Bay. I can respect that.

  7. The sheer lack of pretension in Baltimore’s food world. I mean, sure, it has its pockets and those pockets can be disgustingly ridiculous, but for the most part, the dominant food culture here is one where casual, affordable, delicious food is not difficult to find, especially if you’re willing to search a bit.

  8. The chicken teriyaki and egg sandwich at Joann’s Grill on Preston Street.

  9. That Dooby’s didn’t stop making the chocolate chip cookies–because it means I don’t even have to whip out the mixer to feed my craving for them.

  10. I said this at a CreativeMornings event once, and I think it deserves to go into the archives: Baltimore is a Yes city. In hopes that I was reciprocating in abundance, I’ve asked what, especially in retrospect, seem like the most absurd requests I have made of Baltimore … Can you give away biscuits to 120 people? I know we’ve never met, but I can take over your venue for an event? Can you make a video of me saying happy birthday while doing a magic trick? Can I write about tacos and sandwiches for an entire weekly column? Can I throw a dessert dinner collaboration with my artist sister? Can I sling tacos at your party? Can I bring a popcorn machine to your movie night? Can I borrow your ovens? Can I borrow your ovens again? Can you come speak to a huge crowd on the theme of failure? And to each question was a resounding, bold-as-hell, enthusiastic, heart-felt YES. I love you for that. It’s made me more adventurous, more funny, more excited, and yes, more grateful.

Thank you Thank you Thank you Baltimore.

11225397_842749052512003_5786602807853268711_o

Author Katie Boyts is a pastry chef with a love of affordable carbs and the (former) host of the Baltimore chapter of CreativeMornings. She is leaving for Australia in mere days! Get tickets for Katie’s farewell Creative Mornings Talk on Friday, December 4 here.

Katie’s Portrait Credit: John Davis Photography