Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mustard Seeds...

...with a faith, if only the size of these small ones, I am told I can move mountains.

It is strange, surprising even, how much food triggers memory and how intimately entwined it is with emotions. My mind only need spark the thought, "mustard," and instantly I am transported, transformed back into a girl of 6, kneeling on the maroon carpeted floor of Calvary Baptist Church, called up before the entire congregation (granted, the Calvary Baptist congregation was not a multitude of saints, but I remember dreading the walk down the aisles to the front in front of All Eyes; those physically present more concerning to me than The Almighty, whose Eyes searched far more than the shine of my patent leather Sunday shoes and press and lay of my dress), to receive the children's sermon, always given in the minutes before we were dismissed and allowed to miss the Adult Version. As children, we received the blessings of Abridged and Illustrated.

I remember being shown a mustard seed, one single mustard seed, and hearing, "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20). I was too distracted by this strange seed to begin to contemplate faith. Mustard seeds? What were they, where did they come from? Was this the mother and originator of the beloved yellow picnic condiment? And "poupon"? Did that fun word have its birth here too? Those, and not Faith, ran amok in my mind.

But now? How can, and how does one measure Faith?

This cognitive junction of eating, tasting, emotions, and memory, begins to encompass the difficulty of losing the ability to eat. It is not losing simply A Taste. No. No... rather, it is losing the ability to taste a hoard of memories as well as a bereavement of future expectations.

Tonight I wanted to curry something. Anything. A can of lentils, yes...and, digging through my disarrayed spice collection I discovered a bag of mustard seeds. Mustard seeds and turmeric. Yes, these go nicely.

Mustard Seeds , my Encyclopedia of Healing Foods tells me, are actually of the cabbage family. There are three types of mustard seed, ranging from strongest flavored to most delicate: black (Brassica nigra), white (Brassica alba) and brown (Brassica juncea). They, "contain plentiful amounts of phytochemicals called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. These compounds have been repeatedly studied for their anticancer effects" (Murray, 494-495). Brilliant! I feel lacking in just these two, glucosinolates and isothiocyanates...Perfect timing.

And on currying and remembering I went, as minute by minute the fragrance of basmati increased...

Mustard seeds dance in olive oil, crackling ancient tales; turmeric is welcomed into the evolving history aside old legumes and finally, some fresh greens.

- Mustard seeds -
Turmeric root
Olive oil
Brown basmati rice
Freshly cracked cubeb pepper
Sea salt

1 comment:

  1. Yes, mustard seeds do bring back memories of childhood, or in my case teen years. I remember back at our dear old Calvary Baptist when our youth group chose the name "The Mustard Seeds" as our name and then we proceeded to paint our entire youth room a vibrant mustard yellow. I remember the old ladies not being happy with us for our color choice...he he he. However we felt empowered by the mustard!