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Tour de blogosphere: Meet the “Happy Generalist,” Ottawa’s resident travel bug

By Dylan Barnabe on August 10, 2013

Though she’s had her nose pierced in Warsaw and kayaked in Croatia, this high-flying Canuck still calls the suburbs of Canada’s national capital home.

Katie Shapiro, or the self-declared “happy generalist,” is a blogger from Ottawa’s west-end who documents her day-to-day culinary endeavours and international escapades on Kate’s Plate.

“I was craving a creative outlet,” says the University of Ottawa environmental science student.  “I started the blog during a little fit of science-fatigue and end-of-semester-procrastination a couple winters ago.”

Since then, Katie’s kept busy blogging about everything from homemade ice cream sandwiches to smuggling caramel sauce in Paris to artisan tours in Turkey.

“My interests are fairly diverse and I’ve never really been able to only focus on one or two of them,” she says with a knowing smile.  “As such, I guess ‘generalist’ is kind of how I like to think of myself instead of, say, ‘unaccomplished’ or ‘unfocussed.’”

Photo courtesy of Kate’s Plate

Photo courtesy of Kate’s Plate

Having grown up with travel bugs for parents, it’s no wonder Katie herself has taken to, well, taking off.

“There’s so much to see, near and far,” she says, sporting golden tresses recently returned from a year abroad teaching in Spain. “So I don’t see that wanderlust dying anytime soon.  My daydreaming almost always takes me back to traveling.”

Though she’s been fortunate enough to call the shores of Andalucía, Spain home for the past eight months, Katie is all too happy to be back in the nation’s capital. Having worked for the National Capital Commission as a tour guide on Parliament Hill, she’s no stranger to showing off what this city has to offer.

“Ottawa gets a bad rap as being boring, but I firmly believe that’s untrue; there’s so much here,” she says.  “After guiding so many  tourists, how could I not be in love with the city myself?”

But travelling isn’t all Katie has a taste for.  When she’s not studying or sightseeing, Katie sneaks away to the kitchen to whip up a batch of freshly baked macaroons or plan her next batch of cookies for Christmukkah.

“Food connects people and memories — I love how it can bring you back to a time and a place,”  she says.  “It’s also been a great way to keep track of my favourite recipes; lots of the dishes on the blog are things I go back to making again and again.”

In the two years she’s stood guardian over her “little corner of the internet,” Katie’s perception of her immediate world has changed considerably.

“Friends and family now pause before eating to see if I want to photograph it first,” she laughs sheepishly.  “Sometimes I feel silly, but I also kind of think it has made me see the little things more — things that your eyes might normally just pass over, but tend to pop up on my blog.”

And that’s where the beauty of Kate’s Plate lies: it is a place to indulge in the everyday wonder of the world and everyone’s individual wanderlust.

What’s on your plate?