“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
Despite that fact that I’ve had people tell me that I’m among the bravest persons they’ve ever met; despite the fact that I packed my most important belongings into 52kg worth of luggage, and flew across continents and oceans to relocate in a country that neither spoke my language, nor held my family or friends; despite the fact that I’ve done what only seems reasonable in a romantic novel and relocated for love; I still have a nostalgia for the familiar.
Even though I’ve dived into the waters of Boracay from a five-meter high cliff, or eaten thinly-sliced cow’s tongue soaked in olive oil and vinegar, or am unafraid to crush insects with my bare hands, I’ve never really considered myself valient or strong or courageous.
Amongst the three children whom my parents have raised, I am possibly the most timid. My brother and sister are far braver than me; and I admire them for that.
There are days when a lack of confidence and a doubting of my ability blocks my vision of what I want to achieve. There are periods that a fear of the new and foreign and strange makes me withdraw back into that which is known and experienced.
And there are moments where I’d pass hours reminscing about “the good old days” which are etched into my memory, but seem to fade with the passing of time, and I grapple at them, lingering in the sepia-colored images that my mind still holds.
Yet when these bouts of nostalgia pass, like the passing of a fever that leaves you on the path back to health, I become alert and anxious to move forward, into a future which I barely know what will hold.
I’m trying to live in the present, as they teach us – “to be in the here and now”, and fully and thoroughly enjoy the people who surround me in the place we currently are in. I’m still learning how not to rewind back to the past or accelerate into the future, and to simply participate in the present.
I’ll be honest and tell you I’m still not there yet.. my mind flies from past to future and back again, often too tired to relax in the moment, and too frazzled to take it all in.
There is a homesickness that I often encounter; a condition that most who live away from home will inevitably experience – in my case, I miss being close to my family and friends; I miss the local foods whose very tastes and smells make me feel like I am where I belong; and I miss being in the society which I grew up in.
Then there is also another type of homesickness (not just one of a familiar birthplace), but also a longing and a desire for “places we have never known”.
I think the quote above cannot be better said. This necessity; this need; this craving to experience life in different places, doing different things – possibly an affliction only diagnosed in this twenty-first century (thanks to technology and better means of transport) – is very much present and deep.
I had tea with a friend’s friend’s sister visiting from Singapore last week. I brought her to the beautiful theatre-turned-bookstore El Ateneo along Avenida Santa Fe, and after she snapped a couple of pictures of the impressive interior, we walked up the stage which now acts as El Ateneo’s in-house cafe. We only had a couple of hours to chat; and over tea, panqueques de dulce de leche and medialunas, we shared our personal experiences of living overseas (mine in Mannheim and Buenos Aires; hers in Tokyo and Hong Kong).
With the cafe pianist playing classical music in the background, we exchanged how we felt living overseas; how we felt being far away from home and family; and how we felt when we returned home only to find that we have changed; and that those who we left behind now think so differently from us.
We eventually came to the general conclusion that we are of the type of people who seek out new experiences; the kind that intentionally searches out the different and finds great joy in meeting new people; no matter how different they may be from us. We sometimes gets bored with that which never changes; the too-familiar or the too-predictable. We need stimulation and excitement.
And I’ll add, mostly we are homesick most for the places we have never known.
Today I want to share a recipe that is a trusty balm for the homesick soul – it’s a recipe for grain-free bread that’s more savory than sweet, a result of fresh rosemary leaves sprinkled into the batter.
This is a filling, nourishing quick bread – a combination of almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, eggs, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil. Fresh out of the oven, sliced and smeared with butter, this will warm your soul from the inside out.
- 1½ cups blanched almond flour / almond meal
- 2 tablespoons of coconut flour (or dessicated coconut if you don't have coconut flour)
- 2 tablespoons of golden flaxseed meal
- 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 5 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup coconut oil or butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 175 deg Celcius).
- Grease and line a standard loaf pan with baking paper. Set Aside.
- In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, rosemary, salt and baking powder, and mix well.
- Add in beaten eggs, oil or butter, and apple cider vinegar, and stir thoroughly, until you get a homogeneous batter.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let bread cool for at least 15 minutes in loaf pan before removing and slicing into pieces.
- Serve with butter, or eat it alone.
- Keep in air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or slice into pieces, place in airtight bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.