Daily Thoughts, February 2, 2002
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Gulab Jamon

It is a rare Indian dessert that does not overwhelm the senses. The combination of flavors, smells, textures, temperature, and visual colors all work in ways that goes back long before anyone can remember why.

How can one readily imagine the range? Ice-cream and kulfis always draw those looking for the cold finish however it is the other items that grab attention. Intense browny like substances with a fine silver (real) coating can stretch the initial boundaries. Pudding combinations with cashews, hazelnuts, or pistachios mixed through with small cakes. And then there are the various shaped balls resting in syrups! Some people prefer rasa-gulahs – white, spongy like balls with the most amazing combination of flavors highlighted by the stunning taste of a beautiful rose flower’s smell.

As fantastic, exotic, and unusual as all these desserts are, there is one above all others. When gulab-jamons come anywhere near me I am lost. I confess that I have little power to resist, especially if they are warm, fresh, and have just a hint of rose in the heavy syrup. If the cook is from West Bengal then I am truly doomed! I cannot describe the experience; it is just too much for words. Anything passing with this label found outside of India is but a poor imitation.

As the waves crash in outside of where I sit writing, I can hear, feel, and actually taste the force harshly stumbling in on land. The contrast with the smooth waters of just a few days ago is stark.

How similar is the words that come out of my mouth. Any combination can happen at any moment. People are touched by these sounds, just as much as they are if they taste a bit of an Indian dessert. Some words stretch boundaries while others touch in ways of compassion, mercy, and grace. Mixed in the beautiful are barbs of pain, hurt, and hate. “Gracious speech is like clover honey – good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.” (Proverbs 16.24)

What will I offer to those I meet today?

February 1, 2002
February 3, 2002