Written by: Khadeja
Food is more than just fuel for our bodies; it truly is a multi-sensory experience. The scent of certain spices can send you to another place and time.
Most of my memories of my late mother revolve around food. That was one of the ways she showed her love and generosity to those around her. She also made sure that her meals were a visual experience. When I was little, she would make fries and serve them in a cone made of foil so that I could feel like I was at the circus when really I was just at home. Cupcakes were not good enough in their usual format–instead, she used to cut the tops off, split them in half, and make it look like a butterfly was perching on top of the frosting.
I could describe for you many of her complex dishes. But what I really miss is her tea. Almost every afternoon, she would brew black loose leaf tea until it was the perfect honey-toned color. Then she would add sugar and evaporated milk poured from high above so that it foamed at the top of each mug. This was always always served with homemade bread and Edame cheese. As I write this, I can practically smell this treasured snack.
When I first lost my mother and someone else tried to serve me tea, I broke down and could not even take one sip. Four years have passed, and I still do not drink it. Initially, my boycott was a simple avoidance of an obvious trigger. But lately, I have been reminiscing about her tea more and more. Here’s what is holding me back: I can attempt to recreate the flavors of our mid-day snack, but I am not able to resurrect the company that I enjoyed it with. It was more than just the steaming mug of tea and the food–it was about the conversation that flowed with the same momentum of the tea pouring out of the pot. It was the laughs shared and the sense of security and confidence that I struggle to this day to find again.
In the past four years, life has taken me to numerous places, and I have had the luxury to sample cuisines from all over the world. But at the end of the day, what I really desire is one last tea with my mom.