The first drawing on page three was a mug of tea. Genmaicha, one of my favorites. Green tea with toasted brown rice. Yep, I like anything with a toasty flavor and this tea has it. There are many teas that I like and yet, I think it’s really the hot water that makes it so good. Hot liquid just sinks into me, and makes me smile; nah, not just smile, so much as let go, relax, rest, breathe, slow down, pause. Sometimes it’s bracing, strong black tea with soy or dairy cream. Lyons tea bags from Ireland really make a sturdy, hearty cuppa.
If I want it a little sweet, there’s chai tea from Starbuckaroos or Panera, but for the most part, hold the sugar or honey. One exception would be when lemon and honey is called for, when the throat is sore. I love the spiciness of chai, along with the dairy and sweet. Yep, nice. And although I don’t like plain Bancha green tea at home, I love being served small cups of green tea in an Asian restaurant. Go figure. Again, I think it’s the hot water thing.
Here is a somewhat pitiful drawing of a tortilla , with lots of commentary. In truth, it’s not easy to draw a flat round thing. Tortillas, corn that is, and their dough, masa, hold a very special place in my foodways. They combine so many of the essentials for loving a food. First there is the divine smell. Indescribable, really. And they have a wide range of mouth-feel/cooking options, from crisp to soft, combined with cheese or meat, avocado, tomato. The sauces they hang out with range from cumin-rich tomato, to the seed and chocolate (okay, with chiles, onions & tomatoes too) nectar known as Mole Poblano, a Mexican wonder. In neighboring Guatemala, I adore the distinctly (pumpkin) seed based flavor of Pepian sauce. Oh yeah. I could write on and on about ways to enjoy masa and tortillas and I only know a few of the possibilities. What I know, I love. Many books have been written about tortillas and masa. A research thread to follow.
Ode to the Sesame Seed takes up one end of the page. I love sesame seeds in every form I have ever encountered, baked on or into a wide array of sweet and savory breads & pastries, as an element in dishes like the seed-based Latino sauces I just mentioned, as an element in many Japanese foods – I can easily and happily eat plain rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Tiny as they are, sesame seeds knock me out, they thrill me. They deserve an Ode. And perhaps the richest, most alluring, certainly the creamiest form of the venerable sesame seed is Tahini. There is almost never enough Tahini in the humus or the Baba Ganoush. I’ve had a fantastic, flat Tahini bread from one of the Armenian bakeries in Watertown. Tahini in Falafel and outstandingly combined with lemon to make a dressing for Falafel or salad. It’s another OMG food. When we visited Tokyo, my Japanese sister-in-law brought us a loaf of black sesame bread that I will never forget. Every glorious toasted slice…perfumed the air and delighted my taste buds and belly. I love these tiny seeds. Love ‘em.
There’s an ice cream sandwich in the middle of the page. A favorite ‘toy’ ice cream. The chocolate ‘cookie/cake’ package, outer part is never that good. I find myself drawn to photos in cooking magazines of real cookies used to make ice cream sandwiches. Another vow for the summer, to make them? I’d have to empty out some of the freezer, to make room. This drawing is actually of an ice cream sandwich made without sugar or dairy. It’s made with coconut milk & agave syrup. It’s delicious and completely satisfying. But the mention of coconut leads me on to that passion and memories of candy bars, coconut shrimp and coconut cream pies. I’m not a fan of cream pies, but the inclusion of coconut changes things.
One more item on this page…olives. Something else that I love. I love the flavor of olives in food and I also love olives on their own. I love olive spread, olives in salads. I enjoyed drawing olives, inspired by the oil-cured olives that I put in a salad a few weeks ago, to take to friends after a death in the family. As I began drawing, I wasn’t sure of the spelling of my original heartthrob olive, the big, shiny, black Cerignola. So I went online and researched olives. It was fun and funny. There they all were, from the tiny Nicoise through Gaetas and Kalamatas. Doing the drawing was interesting. They are like jelly beans, but have a little bit of a flattened end. Olives in salads evokes fabulous memories of the Greek salads I would get for lunch 20 years ago, when working in East Somerville. Loaded with feta and olives and crispy bits of eggplant. Heavenly salads. Crispy eggplant in Greek salads is the best!