coriander + ginger

There are comfort foods, which you recall eating as a child in times of chest-aching sickness and drowsy nausea, or whose scents conjure up tender memories of place and time as vivid as a waking dream. Mine are zhok, dhal, chicken rice, kaya toast, and Lipton tea with milk and sugar.

Then there are foods you’ve never had before, but whose ingredients combine the familiar and the exotic in such a way as to induce the kind of sighing spiritual bliss that can only come from the coupling of flavors you know by heart with flavors you are just getting to know. Preparing these foods brings satisfaction that is not unlike matchmaking an old friend with a new acquaintance and watching them fall for each other madly. Who could blame them? A more romantic tale could not be found. One stone mortar and one stone pestle make for a setting as ancient as desire. Coriander seeds rendezvous with ginger root and lie in wait for saffron and plantains.

And the architect of their affair is so enamored of their story that she stops in the midst of her engagements to take a photo: food as love.

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