If the word 'spice' conjures up a dusty bazaar, where a vendor stands behind his open-air stall with jewel-hued ground spices arrayed in fragrant mounds before him, you would be accurately describing a scene from my childhood. There was one vendor at the market a stone's throw away (literally) from my aunt's house, whose spices tickled your nose even before you spotted his stall. Whatever you needed was carefully weighed out on a tiny brass weighing scale, before being handed to you in a twist of day-old newspaper.
Spices and silk as currency shaped our world, and its history. That's what Magellan and Columbus were in search of, and one of them stumbled upon the treasure of this new world that became the United States of America. The spice route stretched from the Far East to India, touched points along the Middle East, and ran along the eastern coast of Africa before rounding the Cape of Good Hope and making its way to Europe and the Americas.
While my childhood dream of traveling the world as a professional eater alas did not come true, now more than ever I find myself craving the foods from lands far away. Enter Spice Route Kitchens: what if, for one week at a time you could enjoy the foods of a home kitchen along the spice route? Vietnam one week, and Brazil the next? South Indian home cooking and Thai street food? Salmorejo and bitter gourd?
As we reopen in the upcoming week, we see an opportunity to bring you food from places you can't travel to, made by people who haven't had access to a licensed kitchen in which to cook it, until now. Historically, men have traveled the world, plundering nations for their treasures - whether those were lumber, spices, precious stones, or people. We propose healing the world one plate at a time, with food cooked by women of all nationalities and ethnicities. In India, we grow up with an entire community of 'Aunties', none of whom are related to us by blood - they are part of the village it took to raise us. For the next several weeks, we have Aunties from North and South India, Brazil, China, and Vietnam cooking up their specialties for sale at Cheeni. Follow along on social media for updates, menus and more. The Army of Aunties is looking forward to serving you.
Wife, mother, baker, jam maker, hug dispenser, reader.