So this is the obligatory make-lemonade-from-lemons and eat-pray-love travel story, as I reminisce about my time on the road.
I have been on the road for nearly a year. There were a few weeks here and there sprinkled about at home in NYC, but I’ve mostly been out and about; touring, learning, exploring. Have I found what I am searching for?
Now comes the part when I’m supposed to tell you my a-ha moment which transformed me into my better self. Let me tell ya, there was this one time…at band camp…
Ha! I’ll spare you the details.
Outside of band camp, I think the most significant moments are simply the ones that are happening right now. Things you do because you’re there in that environment, being yourself, trying to enjoy or survive. A few standout moments from my travels that come to mind:
- Eating barnacles in a wine shop, my friends and I at first wary then happy to pair Merlot with phallic little seafood shapes.
- My parents, tiny and small in the vast empty courtyard of a Chinese noble’s old village clan house.
- Dipping my lips down to drink straight from the Liwu river, the most gorgeous water fountain ever created, bamboo and boulders surrounding me.
- Listening to Marvin Gaye blare from the truck speakers up front while sitting in the back, wind and sun on my face and tea trees crowding my vision.
- Waiting for a tram, huddling under an umbrella with 2 other strangers, our shoes all wet while puddles grow around us, but our foreheads bent towards each other, warm and dry.
These moments and so many more stand out to me because I was feeling. It would be nice to distill it all down to an epiphany, but all I can say is that when life gives you lemons, you may want to squirt the juice into the eyes of that person (or thing) that dumped them on your doorstep. So tempting. But what you should do is say, “Thank You.” Hold that plump lemon in your hands. Forget making lemonade. Instead, feel the lemon’s firmness and squeeze its juices over some oysters!
The fresh fragrance hits your senses first. You are awake. You are open, and you should feast on all the bright, briny, sour, slippery sweetness that is LIFE. As they say here in Australia, “YummO!”
My neighborhood in Melbourne is littered with lemon trees. Lemons just bursting against the sky.
They are the tokens left behind from the Greek and Italian communities that moved in a few generations ago. Everyday, they remind me to just let myself feel. Feel connected, feel the thump from the speakers, feel disappointment and success. I haven’t made a single glass of lemonade yet, but I feel pretty alive. And because I want to stay alive a bit longer, I look both ways before I cross the road. Here, traffic flows on the left, so “better safe than sorry.” Another preventative health tip is to toss a few lemon slices in a glass of water. Hydrate with that and live healthier.
If oysters aren’t your thing, go ahead and make that lemonade. Or, you could make this cake. So many options, which is the beauty of it all. It’s your life. Live it up!
Black Tea with Lemon & Honey Upside Down Cake.
FIRST, make the cake batter.
210g cake flour
8g baking powder
Sift together the above ingredients.
100g light brown sugar
4 large eggs
Whip together the above ingredients until light and fluffy.
15g loose leaf black tea
zest of 1 lemon
Combine the butter, honey, tea, zest, and milk in a pot. Heat and stir gently to melt together and make warm, not hot. Add this to the sugar and egg mixture and mix well. Add in the dry ingredients until just combined. Place in a container, cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the batter, and leave in the fridge overnight.
NEXT DAY, make the caramelized lemon layer.
Take the batter out of the fridge.
Oil a 9″ cake pan. Preheat the oven to 340 F.
Wash and slice three lemons as thinly as possible.
In a tall sauce pot, melt over low/medium heat
dash of salt
When it is amber and smooth, remove from heat and add in
Whisk until smooth.
Pour this into the bottom of the oiled cake pan. Tilt to coat the bottom evenly. Lay the lemon slices down evenly in any pattern you like
Smooth the chilled cake batter over the caramel and lemon slices.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden and springs back from your touch. Let it rest in the pan for 20 minutes. Turn out onto a plate. Serve with tea!