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A Local Encounter that Changed my Perspective - Delicious Little Moments

CANADA | Friday, 19 April 2013 | Views [258] | Scholarship Entry

“CHANA MASALA!”

Listening to orders of Indian and Pakistani food yelled out, Remedy becomes an informal language school in disguise as a café. Behind me, another order is yelled out for a chai.

“My chai is made from thirty-five spices,” Zee, Remedy’s creator, sits in front of me and runs samples of spices through his hands. They grind against his fingers, refusing to slip through like sand. Chewing on a bead of dark brown cardamom, Zee encourages me to follow his lead. It tastes unexpectedly like mint as it dissolves in my mouth and lingers.

“All of the herbs are organic—no preservatives,” Zee begins. “The teas come from Kenya, India, and Bangladesh. I always make sure it’s Fair Trade and organic,” he continues with a list of countries that supply Remedy with Fair Trade spices, coffees, and teas. Zee values Fair Trade and uses it to make his food because he believes it encourages our sharing with each other.

“Sugar Bowl and Da Capo sell my chai and I promote their products by buying their gift cards,” he continues, smiling. It surprises me that restaurants across the street would be willing to sell a competitors’ food. Zee had told me earlier of his father’s proverb: “It takes thirty years to grow a tree, but only two minutes to cut it down.” In this neighbourhood, the restaurant community follows Zee’s father’s words. They work at building a strong relationship for others to see, and hopefully, continue to follow.

Zee continues talking about the experiences that lead him to create Remedy. He transports me to dust bowl alleyways in Pakistan, to New York taxis carrying robbers and celebrities alike, and to a cramped German apartment where Zee discovers that he can transform people, like his stern landlord, into a friend, with a good meal. With Zee’s stories and lessons, I forget the world’s disturbing talent of passing too quickly.

White steam swirls off a bowl of butter chicken, filling the air with garlic and cumin. Symphonies of laughter, excited eyes looking at friends, and fingers connecting over exchanged food—these motions surround me, along with the scent of spices, and give Remedy life. Swallowing a warm bite from the butter chicken bowl, some of Zee’s final words come back to me: “The little things we do [at Remedy’s] I think people appreciate.”

I responded by drinking my chai, as a booming voice yelled out “TWO SAMOSAS!” What was left of my chai had become cold while I sat with Zee and practiced how to live life in moments.



Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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