Souvenirs

We love to bring home reminders of our travels. My mother collected spoons and postcards, and later fridge magnets. I have friends who bring home art, or jewellery. When we look at these items, they bring back memories.

Last night, I brought home an experience to share. Eight friends came over for dinner, and I ran a cooking class, similar to the three I attended during my travels in the Middle East. I called it Palestinian, but it could have been Israeli, Jordanian, or even Egyptian. I picked my favourite recipes from my travels, and we made them together.

The setting may be different but the food is the same!

Making the muqluba that I ate several times in the Middle East

It was an amazing evening. Sharing food is always so immediate and authentic. While we chopped and cooked, we discussed the Palestinian situation, education there, here, and other places we had experience with. We discussed cultural norms and expectations, as well as our personal situations. And perhaps we drank a few bottles of wine during the process.

I think I prefer this to the other souvenirs that are tucked away, the postcards or photos, the items that migrate with time to the cupboard, drawer or basement.

My favourite souvenirs have always been the ones that I see every day. Thirty years ago I traveled to New York with my younger and older sister, and I bought an olive oil bottle in a deli there. It still sits on my counter, and although I don’t think of our long ago trip every time I use it, it happens often enough.

My cloth shopping bags are collected from my travels. The first I bought was in Montreal when I went there with my children so they could learn more French. When I buy my groceries today and put them in the “Apportez votre propre sac” (bring your own bag) I am reminded of that time shared with my children. I have bags from Hawaii, New York, Finland, Hornby Island. And they may wear out, but they do not sit forgotten in a drawer or closet.

I don’t wear much jewellery, but I have earrings that come from Santorini, Helsinki, Mexico. I wear now a bracelet from Egypt that is a cartouche that spells out “brave.”

And I love the reminders of my brave travels.

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