On my first trip to India in 2010 I was nursing a broken heart. I was going through great change and I used that spiritual pilgrimage as an opportunity to pray for healing, to ask for guidance, and to give myself new longitude and latitude points to reset my place in the world. Leading up to that trip, I found myself dreaming about what was on the other side of India. I dreamt of feeling whole, feeling loved again, not being sad every day, meeting someone new…
Preparing for this last spiritual pilgrimage to the Motherland, I found myself in similar circumstances - not a broken heart - but going through great change, praying for guidance, and needing a reset of my points on the map to prepare me for what’s to come. For months I’ve been dreaming about what’s on the other side of India.
Many of you know that this time my ‘other side of India’ is focused on calling in a new home! My soul is full of blog posts to share about this in the next few weeks, but I’ll stay on task with this one.
So now that I’m back in New York City and the apartment search has truly begun, I’m taking stock of what I have, what I don’t need, and what my treasures are. Oftentimes we associate who we are with our things. Our nice clothes, our nice furniture, our creature comforts that somehow prove to ourselves and others that we are doing ok. I call “bullsh*t.” Having traveled to many countries where people have very little in the way of material things, people living without those outside trappings, I see there’s easier access to their goodness, their kindness, their happiness. It’s a lesson I have to see time and time again, to learn, and to practice. In America, we are so fortunate, everything we could ever dream of needing or wanting is available to us.
When people hear that I’m a personal chef in New York City, one of the main reactions I get is, “You must have an amazing kitchen!” I’ve come to love my kitchen and how it has served me for nearly 18 years, but it is NOT amazing. What makes it seem amazing and makes me cook with greater efficiency and love is that it is filled with so many things/gadgets given by loved ones wanting to contribute to my business!
Early on in my cooking life, I remember my dear friend Randle researched knives and presented me with a Sabatier chef’s knife which became the foundation of my knife collection. He was investing in my dreams as a cook and that gift always reminds me that he believed in me so long ago. Another loved one knew all my fancy knives lived in a cluttered drawer so he bought me a knife block. Two of my first friends in New York City worked at Crate and Barrel and for every special gifting occasion, they would use their employee discount and get me an expensive pan. Something I couldn’t afford on my own, but that would make my life easier and enhance my work as a cook.
A past love of my life gave me a Circulon grill pan that, 20 years later, remains the cornerstone of my weekly cooking. About 15 years ago, he upgraded his gift to me with a double burner LogCabin brand cast iron grill pan that fools everyone into thinking I have some huge backyard and I fired up the grill. An old housemate bought me my first Cuisinart. My parents and sister came together to get me expensive chef’s mats to give my feet comfort from all the long hours of standing. My Kitchenaid stand mixer was from them too. Not to mention the countless spoons, spatulas, and dish towels that I put to use as soon as I unwrap them. (Special shout out to the Conrow ladies for finding props for my photo and video shoots!)
I share my home and kitchen with a best friend, Christopher, whom every year sees first hand what I need, or what is worn out, and at Christmas, he drops a bunch of money on a new kitchen appliance to improve my cooking world. This past Christmas, knowing that we were going our separate ways, and knowing that more than likely my new kitchen would be smaller and I will have less storage space, I was adamant about not needing or wanting another kitchen gadget. And yet, this December, Christopher’s generous kitchen gifting tradition remained, and I opened up a Soda Stream! This is something I never even knew I wanted. I love it. It wasn’t an investment in my business, it was a thoughtful investment in ME. It refreshes me, it’s a fun little way to enhance my own personal eating and drinking time, and I’m using it this week to share a recipe!
So there’s a drink in India that seems like no big deal. It’s the Fresh Lime Soda. Do you know it? In A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, it says that fresh lime soda was "the supreme quencher of colonial thirst" in India. My guess is it was the Indian servants who worked for the royalty that invented this refreshing drink. It was actually the very first version of Gatorade! The sun is hot in India and it’s easy to dehydrate. So the lime soda gets electrolytes back into the system: an energy boost of sugar, a bit of sodium with a pinch of salt, and the juice of the limes provides potassium. All swished into cold, effervescent water!
We had this at nearly every meal on our trip. Now that I have my Sodastream and make my own sparkling water, fresh lime sodas will greet you when you come to see me in my new digs! I’m excited to keep a bowl of fresh limes on hand and a pitcher of simple syrup. So easy, but it feels so special. I’m excited to be on the other side of this India trip and anxious for my new longitude and latitude points on the map.
Fresh Lime Soda
- 2 tbsp. chilled simple syrup (made by first boiling together equal parts sugar and water, then letting it cool)
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, chilled
- 3⁄4 cup soda water, chilled
- a pinch of salt
- Lime slice, for serving
Add simple syrup, salt, and lime juice to a tall glass. Add soda water. Stir well, then serve garnished with a lime slice and a straw.