Friday, December 7, 2007

Masala Chai and Memories

There is no picture today. Between work, final research papers, birthdays, class presentations, and dinner with Jose's family, there has been no time for pictures. No time for real cooking either. I did make some sweet potato pancakes on Tuesday, stirring batter in the kitchen at 6:30 in the morning, defying the weekday gods in an attempt to break out of the breakfast doldrums, but that was it. Saturday I ate out. Sunday I ate leftovers. Monday Jose's parents took us out to celebrate our birthdays. Tuesday we ordered pizza. Wednesday I ate leftover pizza and clementines from Whole Foods (via Spain). And yesterday, after finishing off some old zucchini pancakes before rushing to my night class, I defrosted a container of unidentifiable frozen soup (it turned out to be peanut butter-vegetable) for my lunch today.

But this post is supposed to be about tea-spicy milky sweet masala chai, to be exact. It has been snowing and windy and cold this week. So looking out at the bleak grey sky at 6 AM this morning I decided what I needed was something spicy and warm, something that would wake me up and get me moving, but in a more gentle manner than a shot of expresso. Thinking that a mug of masala chai would be the perfect thing to sip on while munching sweet pancakes, I hopped on the internet and went straight to Confessions of a Cardamom Addict's delicious recipe. I varied it slightly by using all 1% milk instead of a mixture of milk and water, added a little more cardamom, and (of course) used black pepper from our farm in Belize.

One sip of my tea and I was transported to a chilly early morning on a second class train to Jaipur, to the sound of a boy lugging a steaming vat of masala chai down the narrow passageway, singing out "chai! chai!" with a melodic regularity that sounded like a bell ringing, while ribbons of fog snaked past the window through the dry brown landscape (punctuated by the occasional cow).

So what food brings back travel memories for you? Is it the whiff of a specific spice, the homey flavour of a special dish, the throat searing strength of a regional liquor? I look forward to reading your comments when I take a break from my paper on the politics of labeling displacement:).


Cynthia said...

Girl I had tea with tea-masala for the first time in October and I tell you, I don't know if I can go back to having tea without it :)

Hope you are well.

Lyra said...

I'm doing great Cynthia,going home to Belize next week friday...I can't wait to eat me some rice and beans and stew chicken and soak up some warm tell me, what foods bring back memories of travelling for you?