Saturday, October 15, 2011
Tea and Pomegranates
One of the loveliest books I've read recently is Nazneen Sheikh's Tea and Pomegranates. This memoir weaves family, food and culture into an evocative feast, filled with memories and beautiful phrasing. The descriptions are so tantalising that it makes the reader want to run to the kitchen to try one of the numerous recipes that Sheikh has generously selected to share.
When I read the passages about her introduction to pink Kashmiri tea and delicious pastries by her grandmother, I thought of summer visits to my own grandmother's house in England as a child and the cups of tea "Nannie" would bring to me in bed, along with a few digestive biscuits for dunking. Only once this morning ritual was completed was I expected to get on with the day.
Though not nearly as exotic as Kashmiri pink tea and pastry, the memories of my grandmother's tea, served lovingly to a child in bed, are just as precious.
From Tea and Pomegranates:
My grandmother poured the pink tea from the samovar into a cup. I watched the straight line of her black eyebrows crease as she shredded a spiral of gossamer-thin pastry into the tea.... Many years after that memorable breakfast, when I first discovered that a handful of green tea leaves could be transformed into a rare delicacy called Kashmiri pink tea, I sensed the tapestry of my grandmother's life unfurl before me.... Although Bashirabad is lost, my grandmother's history lives in every cup of Kashmiri tea I drink. (Penguin Canada, 2005)