I moved to Canada about 2 years ago. The world around and within me changed. Now, this realization wasn’t instantaneous. Definitely not the very moment I stepped my feet on this land. This realization came in moments big and small, bright and dull and through landscapes and people, culture and food. So, while I embraced the newness of this country, and my life in it, there were moments when I missed home. The feeling of it. Still do.
I grew up with my Aunt around. She was pursuing her masters in food & nutrition while I was growing up. The days she had her exams and practicals, were specifically the happiest days for me. Because there would be recipes invented, food shared and I got to be the guinea pig by being her taster. The joy that I got being the first one to taste a dish created for the very first time ?on this planet? was unmatched. I as a little girl sort of took pride in it. It was like my little power that most of my friends didn’t have.
There was this particular evening when my Aunt was preparing for her exam the next day and she baked this homestyle banana walnut cake by combining some of the signature ingredients. Now you’d probably think, what possibly would be signature other than bananas and walnuts. As a grown up adult, I’d think so too. But as that 8 year old, those were just some magical, signature ingredients going in the bowl, being whipped together and put to be baked in the oven. Irrespective of whatever day of the week it was, it surely felt like a Sunday. The hot, perfectly brown cake was brought out and the aroma filled our entire house. I remember taking the first bite and learning how cakes are supposed to taste. My 8 year old self jumped around the kitchen having tasted the best cake ever.
Days passed since that evening. I grew up, shifted cities, met new people, fell in love, tasted more food, fell out of love, cooked, travelled, ate more food. Life was good. Because I knew I could any day take a flight back home and have that special cake. Not until I had a one-way ticket to Canada in my hand. So, when I was boarding my flight, having my life packed in suitcases and the melodramatic song playing in my head, I thought to myself- Aman, you may get a lot of things in Canada but you’re also leaving behind a lot.
Even though I kept reminding myself that there are far better things ahead than any I’d leave behind, I didn’t believe in it until this evening, just a month ago. My social media was bombarded with the new frenzy gripping the world during times of Covid-19. Yeah, you guessed it, right. Banana bread. I called up my Aunt and begged and bullied her into sharing her secret family recipe. I read through it and thought to myself- ‘Wow! It definitely is more than just bananas and walnuts.’ I got the ingredients, started whipping them together, praying and hoping for it to turn good. I put the mixture in a dish and put it in my oven for 30 mins. The oven beep went off, but the aroma signalled this to me much before that. I was ready for some time travel. My tiny condo smelled EXACTLY the same as my house did. Years ago. I took the cake out of the oven, sliced it into pieces, took the first bite and I broke into that happy dance I did as an 8-year old. Not only did I revisit my childhood, but I finally got the glimpse of how home felt like in Canada.