Me: (lying down, resting before dinner)
Hank: Mama, can I come in?
Me: Of course.
Hank: I just wanted to thank you for making me that bowl of popcorn for a snack after school.
Me: Oh, thank you for thanking me because it took all my willpower not to eat it.
Hank: It was so good.
Hank: What was that flavor? It was kinda spicy, but not just hot spicy also with… I don’t know what kind of spice, but I really liked it. I ate everything. I licked the bowl.
Me: That flavor was a very special gift. It was a hand-blended masala. Do you know what masala is?
Hank: (sitting on the bed, shaking his head no)
Me: Masala is a blend of spices that every cook, home cook to chef, uses for the base to a ton of dishes in India and all over Asia in some form or another. Every cook has a blend they prefer, normally the one their mother or grandmother taught them to make. They are all different, each one is unique, like a snowflake and this masala is the blend made by Vaibhav’s (our dear friend) mother. She lives in Gujarat. I tell you this because India is a very large country and the region also influences the way masala is blended. She sent me some because I asked Vaibhav to bring me a traditional Indian spice container as a gift when he was home last and every spice collection revolves around the masala.
Me: Really, hers is the best masala I have ever tasted. I was having a difficult day today and I wanted to treat myself so I added Vaibhav’s Mother’s Masala, salt, pepper and a dash of piri-piri hot sauce to my normal popcorn recipe and it was perfectly decadent and utterly restorative. As soon as the masala hit the oil in the pan it perfumed the whole house and I instantly felt better. Cooking is powerful especially when things are made with love.
Hank: Do you normally use the masala for popcorn?
Me: Masala has no rules.
Hank: It was so good.
Me: For Vaibhav I am sure when he cooks with it…
Hank: (finishing my thought) It reminds him of his mom and home.
Hank: Like when Monica (Hank’s cousin) cried over the canja (chicken soup) that Dalia (Hank’s grandmother/Monica’s aunt) made because it tasted like Aldina’s (Monica’s grandmother/Hank’s great grandmother)?
Me: Exactly like that.
Hank: You should make Viabhav a big bag of this popcorn. Eating it is like my mom meeting his mom, but with food.
Me: (smiling) No one ever called you dumb.
Hank: Not one day.