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Tea and memory

TeatimeOne of the best things about working from home (even when you’re unemployed) is the ability to hang out in your sweats, make a nice pot of tea and stare out at the miserable and seemingly neverending rain. Sprinkle of sugar, cloud of milk. It’s pure comfort.

I’m nearing the end of a collection of teas that we purchased four and a half years ago (!) in Granada, Spain. The labrynthine cobblestone streets of the Albaicìn, the old Moorish district, amid whitewashed buildings and signs more in Arabic than in Spanish, felt exotic and exhilarating. We were enticed into a small shop by beautiful music, again infused with Arabic tones. It was a tea shop, the walls lined with canisters of hundreds of varieties of tea. We bought several varieties: teas with flower petals, with dried fruits, with licorice root (which is what remains, and what I’m having now); we had no idea what kinds we were getting, and didn’t really care. We also bought the CD right from his player — Alif by Omar Faruk Tekbilek. I remains a favorite to this day. As I sit here drinking one of the last pots of exotic Moorish tea, listening to that album, I am flooded with memories of balmy October nights in Granada, of storms over the Alhambra, and of lightly sweet b’stilla, jamòn iberico and Canasta sherry. Sure beats gloomy skies and chilly rain in San Francisco.

Food, like travel, can be a transportive and transformative experience. It’s certainly my favorite way to revisit destinations short of a plane ticket back.

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