26 September | BY Andjelka Jankovic | Travel
The road you take will lead you here, so while you wait for the sun to rise again, think of us dancing in the rain
Whenever I try a new cuisine I want to immediately jump on a plane to a new place: Iran for Persian eggplant stew, Morocco for harira soup, Venezuela for arepas and Ethiopia for handmade injera. The discovery of a new flavor (salted maple), condiment (green tamatillo salsa verde) or vegetable (squash vine) gives me the same thrill as another traveller might feel when they say, bungee jump into a waterfall or find bottomless $2 mimosas at brunch.
For every new city I visit, I always seek out a local farmers market to see, taste (and squeal) at seasonal produce and ask the growers lots of questions – they are the ultimate tour guide.
Four months into my North American travels, it was love at first bite when I tasted an organic Ontario-grown ginger gold apple at a farmers market in a Toronto park. I immediately wanted to know where I could pick them myself. The apple-picking season was in full swing at orchards an hour outside of Toronto, but I had no car or way to get to the countryside. I considered hitchhiking but knew I would be stretching my traveller’s luck by trying to cart home a 20-kilo basket of apples in a stranger’s car.
Two weeks of persistence and failed persuasion left me fruitless, literally. I had given up hope of tasting an apple straight from the tree when my two Canadian housemates (returning from a camping trip) casually remarked that they had picked buckets of apples last week. From a tree. Down a street. A few blocks from where my mouth was standing wide open in our kitchen.
Within minutes we set forth on our apple mission with a comically long ladder, big carry bags and even bigger grins. Passing familiar laneways and streets, this mission had no GPS. After several wrong turns and doppelgänger trees – we turned a corner and with the sun shining directly on her like a beacon, we found her.
We quickly set up the ladder and I climbed up to get the first taste. I picked the first one I could reach. In awe of her perfectly imperfect rumbled skin and golden ginger glow, I took the victorious bite. My housemates waited in silence for the verdict. The mouth to flesh contact made a satisfying crunch. I proclaimed it “the best apple of my life.” Then I picked and ate another one.
There are always flowers for those who want to see them. – Henri Matisse
I can’t say if this same apple would be the best apple of your life, but it tasted like home to me. And since I don’t have one at the moment, home was wherever I am. Wherever I am I like to cook, so the backyard bounty is bubbling away on the stove to be made into apple chamomile marmalade for new neighbourhood friends.
It is true – you never forget your first (handpicked apple).