Memories and Favorites

I absolutely love to have lime in my drinks. Four of my favorite drinks feature lime either as the main flavor or as the sole flavor. Am I at a Mexican restaurant? Agua con limon verde, por favor. Am I out at a cocktail bar? A sweet gin gimlet is for me. Out on vacation? Mojitos. Am I looking for something refreshing at home in the middle of the day? Splash some lime juice in a La Croix water and call it a win.

Honestly, I love putting lime in everything from chicken noodle soup to chili, over an asian salad or drizzled over fresh steamed broccoli. It really is a favorite.

I’m not exactly sure when I started loving lime in everything. I remember the first time I had lime in chicken soup was in the Bahamas on our mission trip to Eluthra, when our host served us the soup she had cooked that afternoon and showed us that we could add lime juice to give it a pep. While I was at divinity school, and every Sunday a group of us went to Torrerro’s after church for lunch, I quickly learned that you had ask for lime En Español in order to not just get a lemon with your water. I think I’d tried mojitos before, but one holiday I took with my parents down at Universal Studios, we ordered a pitcher of mojitos to share… and mom and I loved that we could take the boat back to our hotel. My sister first introduced me to gin gimlets while she was working at a swanky Atlanta restaurant, and my friend Tom offered excellent advice on what kind of gin to buy so that I could make them for my husband and myself at our most recent New Year’s celebration.

It’s funny to me how some foods always remind me of particular times that I had that food. I tie my memories to food and drink the way some people use photographs to remember moments. I have a deep visceral reaction to some very seemingly mundane dishes. It’s one of the reasons that Thanksgiving is so important to me, and why I made a Chocolate Chip Pie for my embassy hosts the year I was in Peace Corps. I needed something deeply familiar in a space that was decidedly unfamiliar. (A special gift I received that year was my host letting me use their phone to call home… and knowing my grandparents’ number by heart so I could call and talk to the whole family around the table as they gathered eight thousand miles away.)

I keep trying new foods and drinks, because I never know what new memories I will tie to the new things I’ve tried. And I never know what my new favorite will be.

Advertisements

New Starter

The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. —Exodus 12:33-34 (NIV)

I’ve read the story of the Exodus at least once a year since I got my own bible in third grade. I’ve read about the Ten Plagues and the Israelites leaving after the Angel of Death visiting each home of the Egyptians while the Israelites were saved because they had the special marks on their doorways. I’d read about the feast of unleavened bread and not having yeast in their homes for a week.

This week, reading it again I noticed the people of Israel having to pack up in the middle of the night and carry their bread wrapped up in their cloaks before the bread could rise, possibly before the yeast could be added.

Yeast is a living thing that feeds on sugar and makes air bubbles. Yeast in the time of the Israelites was probably a small jug of starter that was kept alive and added to bread a little at a time, with little bits of extra added back to the jug every so often to keep it healthy.

Bread is a basic necessity, and so yeast is as well.

Imagine a people who leave in the middle of the night, carrying only what they can on their backs. These people are headed out into the desert where they will wander for forty years to learn who and whose they are.

They have left their starter yeast behind because they are going out to start a new life. 

This new life will be different down to the bread they bake. It won’t taste like the bread of Egypt because they won’t have any of Egypt’s yeast to put in their loaves. Even this incremental change will be hard to take, and they will complain about not having bread. God will provide them with bread that is sweeter than what they have ever tasted. And soon enough they will tire of that as well.

But they will learn to make new bread in a new land. They will start a new home in the land that is promised to them. And they will gather a bit of yeast from a neighbor and create a new starter jug for the bread that will sustain them through their lives.

They will become a new people. Little by little. Even down to their bread.