I found an old piece of writing. It was before Berkeley, Ghana, London and even UCSB. I was a junior in high school, living in a small town, and wanting to see the world.
“I love to watch people maneuver their way through their own kitchen. The grace they have when they don’t even have to look at where they are taking cups, sugar, and spices from. In fact, that is one of the reasons I enjoy cooking so much, that I can fly around and not think about anything in particular.
I guess I find beauty in familiarity.
Maybe I’m strange, but I just love knowing that people KNOW places so well. It makes places special. Like the reason you love your room so much. It’s your place.
I used to think that I wanted to get out of Oakhurst forever. To get far away and see as many places as possible. Not that that dream has faded completely- but I’m seeing the beauty of a hometown.
Of knowing secret places like water towers and hidden trails.
Being able to know what you want from a local restaurant without looking at the menu.
I still want to go places. God knows how much I want to see the world.
But more then that- I want to experience the world.
To KNOW places.
I don’t want snapshots of Greece and London; I want to know where the best local market is….from experience. I want to know the texture of countries and the flavor of their cities.
It’s not a revolutionary idea…but I guess I just want to express the fascination I have with little details like being able to tell your mom on the phone what drawer and what side of the drawer the socks you want her to grab for you are.”
May 10, 2007
It’s a funny thing the way this worked- and didn’t work- its way into my life. I ended up sprawled between countries and continents with no more than a year in each place. In some ways, I feel transitory. Restless. Mobile.
But even though I was in some of these places for only a short time, I think I soaked them into my skin, if only on a small, local level.
When in London, I didn’t get to Germany, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, or Greece. I went to Borough Market every weekend and talked with my favorite tea stand.
In Accra, Ghana I didn’t ride buses to Togo or Benin. I went to Medina market and bought groundnuts and Shea butter. I explored Accra’s old colonial buildings. I watched rainstorms from my window and washed clothes with my hands.
I was often homesick even though I wasn’t sure what home I was sick for. I missed my family and my boyfriend. I missed friends-but it felt like my transitory nature left them few and far between back “home”.
I grew up a lot. People think we go on these adventures to find ourselves. But we really just leave pieces everywhere we go.
Here is a recipe for French Toast I used when I felt homesick.
French Toast Ghana Style
measurements are approximate
1/2 loaf sugar bread (make sure you say “sugar” and not “sweet”, or you will get wheat bread) in thick slices
3 brown eggs
2 Tablespoons evaporated milk powder
2 Tablespoons condensed milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
dash of vanilla
dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg
Mango, margarine, and unfiltered honey (in sketchy old water bottle) for toppings
Beat all ingredients except bread and oil in 1/4th cup water. Heat hot plate and pan with coconut oil on highest setting (or, whatever you can guess the setting is since its not marked…). Dip sliced bread in egg mixture and pat to soak. Fry slices one at a time, but take care to do slowly to cook through (you might have to take the pan on and off the hotplate seeing as you cannot change the settings).
Enjoy with your mango and honey! (but go easy on the honey because it tastes like molasses…..)