I'm pausing in the rush of evening meal preparation to perch at the computer. Friday night meals are always simple -- fish and potatoes of some sort with a salad on the side. It's a family tradition. Tonight I'm multi-tasking and making oasis naan and dessert for lunch guests tomorrow. As I looked at my crowded and messy spice rack (why should it stand out from the rest of the house?) I feel a wave of culinary imperialism on one hand and a rush of longing for tropical adventure on the other.
Here I am making naan and curry for lunch, fish and potatoes (how Anglo) for dinner, and a French prune tart for tomorrow's dessert. Into these, I casually tip the treasures that spurred adventures, inspired explorers, caused wars, exploited people and the land. There's cinnamon, cloves whole and ground, cumin, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, chillis, turmeric, ginger, paprika both sweet and smoked, dill, oregano, aniseed, five spice, star anise, cardamom pods, whole peppers…the hot smells of China, the heavy heat of the Dutch East Indies, the dry dust of the bazaars...
Perhaps it is the grey drizzle and cold heavy air of the winter's day but I am momentarily transported. I take these treasures for granted when those in the past have cried out for and fought over these precious pinches of flavour and scent.
The Jaeckels came through the Indies. I wonder what treasures they discovered and brought with them to Australia.