About

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Hello. Hola. Bonjour. I’m a translator and writer based in the southeastern Spanish city of Murcia specializing in food, travel and culture. I’ve translated and collaborated on eleven cookbooks and counting, including a book about pâtisserie that won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award in 2017.

Lured to Murcia by a local who’s now my husband, I became enamored with the food, too. I was smitten by Murcia’s unique takes on Mediterranean staples like artichokes, fava beans and eggplants; by the rice dishes akin to paella but entirely their own; by the pimentón-hued empanadas.

Learning about local food traditions became an obsession, fueled around tables and in kitchens with local family and friends. My bookshelves sag under the weight of all the books I’ve bought about Spanish and Murcian food traditions, yet I’m always hungry for more.

You’ll find a sampling of dishes from my adopted home, in addition to tastes of nostalgia (and a few digressions), under the “Recipes” tab on this website, Bread and Onions.

The name of this website comes from the Spanish idiomatic expression, Contigo, pan y cebolla.” This literally means, “With you, bread and onions,” but figuratively, it’s a promise of love and commitment come what may. These words convey the same idea as the classic marriage vows in English, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer.” Beyond the marriage context, I also see this as a metaphor for the ups and downs of daily life. No matter where we call home, life will always have its sweet bread and its bitter onions to savor and to overcome together with family and friends.

About me

I’ve been based in Murcia since 2009 and live with my husband and young son, who has a Spanish penchant for parties, but decidedly American tastes when it comes to breakfast (pancakes all the way).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt the pull of travel and different cultures. Originally from Orlando, Florida, I studied comparative literature in Colorado and then moved to Portland, Oregon, where I put down roots for ten years. I earned my Masters in French from Portland State University, and then worked for two years in Avignon, France, just minutes from the Palais des Papes. There, I taught English to university students from all over Provence and the French-speaking world—including Benin, Guadeloupe, Reunion and Wallis and Futuna—and they generously shared their stories with me.

My French education also took me to Dakar, Senegal, for a semester. There, I discovered memory-haunting Senegalese specialties like thiéboudienne, yassa, and mafé, and experienced the depth of the country’s legendary teranga (hospitality).

In addition to translating, teaching and writing, my hands-on experience in food service includes bussing tables at an Indian restaurant; serving hummus-stuffed pitas from a school-bus-turned-snack-bar in Burlington, Vermont; and selling hot dogs and slushies to weary tourists at Universal Studios, Orlando.

All along, food has played a central role in making and maintaining connections with the places I’ve lived and people I’ve met. Through cooking and eating, I’ve experienced different cultures, fed my nostalgia and shared my ever-expanding tastes of home.

15 Comments

  1. This is a wonderful website. I can’t wait to try your recipes and to visit your part of Spain one day! Well done and engaging.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words, Laura!

  2. Eliza Nelson

    Ansley, I just read all your recent posts and more, and you made my night. I love your balance of humor, cultural awareness, research, and personal memoir. I’m laughing about Le Crumbler and the Strawberry Shortcake Apricot Doll as well as the description of fussy sourdoughs and pandemic bread-making obsessions. I want to squeeze that adorable baby Mateo eating the great apricot. Love you!

    • Thank you so much Liza — seeing your comments here made my day! Love and miss you.

  3. Eliza Nelson

    Ansley,

    I had not yet read this beautiful introduction to yourself and your blog. What a sweet mission you’re on, so humbly and clearly stated. You write with wisdom and grace. Your photo is almost as gorgeous as you are in real life!

    With admiration,
    your friend,
    Liza

  4. I hope to see you writing in 2013! Your posts are so well developed and thought out. I love the inclusion of food, culture, music and la vida cotidiana.

    • Hi there, Thanks so much for the kind words and encouragement! I know it has been a while, but there will be more coming in 2013!

  5. Ansly! Siempre me habéis hablado de este blog, y ahora me he cruzado con el por casualidad en el internet. Me ha gustado muchísimo, el amor que le has dado y la inspiración que estrenan tus cuentos, maravilloso!

    • Hola Jeanette! Que bien “encontrarte” aquí! Muchísimas gracias por tu mensaje – de verdad, lo aprecio mucho. Te echamos de menos en Murcia. Hicimos una comida en mi casa el sábado pasado, et no fue igual sin ti. Espero verte pronto! Un abrazo fuerte, A

  6. Ansley! I’m so happy Josh found your website! I can’t wait to read more of it 🙂

  7. Ansley,
    This sounds very interesting and I am anxiously awaiting to hear more!

  8. Andrea Scudder Evans

    Congratulations on your fabulous new beginning and adventure!

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