Saturday, August 28, 2004

"Here," the husband said, handing me a grimy packet of chewing gum, cinnamon-flavored, my favorite.

Where did that come from, I asked.

It turns out he'd brought it back from New York when he was there in April and he'd unearthed it from a bag somewhere where he'd forgotten it.

The strange thing in Sweden is that there is no cinnamon-flavored candy of any sort. They much prefer licorice that has been laced with ammonia-y salt.

And now, as I start thinking about fixing a curry for tonight's dinner party - a mix of caraway seed, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardemom, fresh ginger, garlic and onion, turmeric, saffron and ground cashews - I'm wondering what makes a culture choose to love a certain spice above others? Why wasn't I raised to have a sweet tooth for caraway- or saffron- or ginger-flavored chewing gum?

Interestingly, chewing gum doesn't go stale, sitting in a bag somewhere for five or six months.

The Swedish word for the day is, of course, kanel. It means cinnamon.

- by Francis S.

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