As the world slowly imploded Saturday night after the immigrant ban, Brett and I watched Scarface. An extreme choice in retrospect, but it offered insight beyond its cautionary tale of greed told by way of a cocaine avalanche.
Suffice to say if you are concerned about refugees killing Americans, which has not happened since the seventies, you might as well since cite Tony Montana as a reference.
I understand that terrorism is a threat. I feel it. I was in Boston during the marathon bombing and I have not been able to stand at ease in a large crowd since. But at its core this ban is un-American and uninformed.
It is also cowardly.
Have its supporters ever met a refugee?
I have. She was from one of the seven countries now banned from entering the United States. She was not carrying an assault riffle or a burning flag. She was carrying baklava.
Her delicately flaky pastries were held in a disposable foil pan. The kind your mother might use to cook and transport a casserole. They were stuffed with pistachios and scented with cardamom. She had Margaret Keane eyes and was incredibly kind. So grateful to see me that she came carrying dessert.
Diversity makes us better. It makes our plates, and our lives, richer.
Without the movement of people from space to space we would not have baklava. There would not be spaghetti and meatballs, either. No chocolate for our chocolate chip cookies. No coffee.
And certainly no turmeric tea. Which is what I am here to talk about today.
I had it in caffeinated protest before the rally in Boston on Sunday.
The recipe comes from Tejal Rao, a London-born writer with Kenyan-Indian roots living in Brooklyn. She describes the tea as her grandmother’s silent acknowledgement of the typical grievances that tend to occur in childhood, no matter where you call home.
The drink is the color of a canary and tastes like a delicate chai. I used mostly water and a little half and half, instead of milk, because it was what I had. I do not think the liquid you use will matter much past its volume. The milk is not the point. The spices are the point.
I had torn the recipe out a couple weeks ago, intending it for a time when I needed a little quiet comfort. I did not expect to need it so soon.
But I am glad to have it here.
Adapted from Tejal Rao of The New York Times Magazine
- ¾ cup of water
- a ½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- ½ tsp dried turmeric
- 1 cardamom pod, lightly cracked
- 1 cinnamon stick (see notes)
- 2 black peppercorns
- ½ to 1 tbsp honey
- ¼ cup half and half
- 1 black tea bag
In a small saucepan, add the water, ginger, spices, and honey (start with a ½ tablespoon) and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and then add the half and half and tea bag.
When the liquid starts to steam (it should be barely simmering at this point), taste and add additional honey if needed.
Pour through a mesh strainer into a teacup and discard the spices.
Makes enough for one
- If you are going to make this often, you will go through a lot of cinnamon sticks. You may want to experiment with ground cinnamon, which I suspect will be just as good.
- If you do not want to use half and half, you could cut the water down to a couple tablespoons and add in about a cup of milk (or even a nut-based milk) instead.