Celebrating Two Years
Two years ago this January, this blog was born! The word, aromatum, from the phrase "Navigatio ad loca aromatum" (which I found in this book), seemed to fit perfectly with my desire to see the world according to scent. The phrase means: navigate to the places where the spices are. Despite being a travel directive, often on these pages I am merely seeing the world from my apartment. I still marvel at the power of language to teach us, the power of scent to trigger memories and evoke emotion.
My first entry in 2013 I roasted red onions with Vietnamese cinnamon and salt and piled them on top of couscous with spinach. Then I wrote about it, reflecting on the first time I'd ever smelled a REAL cinnamon tree on a trip to Ghana in 2003. That first solo-journey abroad, when I was 18, was the first time I had an inkling of desire to travel aromatum, or to the places where the spices are.
If you are not one of those going out to the sea, you say the sea is calm.
- Ghananian Proverb
Writing has a way of creating clarity, and I think all the writing I've done over the years, including in creating this blog, has helped me realize my passion for scent and spices, for navigating my way to the aromatic places of the earth, for chasing beauty and memory, curiosity as my guide.
Unlike my apartment sessions, where scents and flavors transport me to the spice-places, my journeys themselves are opportunities to add a third dimension to spice + place. Being overly shy and sort of awkward when it comes to new people, I haven't got many photographs of people from my travels. I have a few that I cherish.
Photographs aside, I have a rich connection to everyone I've met—they are my teachers, my friends, my odd encounters; they have helped me create a deeper understanding of the world and of myself. Truly, some of my encounters were beyond strange, but some were enlightening. From chocolate makers in Vietnam to cinnamon peelers in Sri Lanka, from a woman who asked me to eat a duck fetus to a chef who taught me to pound curry in a mortar, from a drunk taxi driver to a new friend who tried to kiss me, from farmers who spoke no English to old botanists who spoke plenty, from lonely restaurant owners to passionate ex-pats eager to share their story, from a desperate woman asking me for money to another woman teaching me how to make cocktails, I have made contact with so many people it leaves me breathless.
If you act like one in ecstasy, you also dance like one in ecstasy.
- Ghanaian Proverb