When I first moved here I went to a very specific part of Kowloon to look at the recommended Indian grocers. Since that first trip I have never returned. I literally never go to the Indian store. Like every Hong Konger I know I call my preferred grocery guy with a list and he delivers for cash the next day.
In 2008, in our pre-Kid days, we went to California on vacation. Our first 3 days were spent with my cousin B. We spent most of our time talking and eating. I kept falling asleep and when I was awake I devoured the dal and rice and nellikka (amla/ gooseberry) pickle in her house like I had not seen food before. I wanted that pickle at every meal I had there - including a meat heavy barbecue. I put it all down to jet lag and exhaustion from a super hectic job (the sleep), desperately missing my aunt (maker of the pickle) and the California air making me hungry (for dal of all things eughh). If that was not a clue I do not not know what was.
A few weeks later I discovered I had been pregnant for a lot of that trip and before - and it all made a bit more sense - craving the odd. The funny thing is I had never liked nellikka pickle before that moment and I still never connected the dots of odd. I don’t think I ever had it again. A few years ago I randomly thought about it and called my aunt whose first instruction was to get the frozen gooseberries from Trader Joes. I have never lived in a country with Trader Joes or it’s equivalent and I never thought to ask my Indian grocer or hunt for them in supermarket aisles. Totally dismissed and blanked it out.
I forgot all about it and time went on. Till this week when I was calling in my list to my Indian grocer here and I couldn’t think of what other veggies to ask for. I told him to reel off a list of what he had available instead. When he said ‘nellikka’ I had sudden visions of the pickle from yore (haha) and decided to order a small amount and see what it could inspire (not babies, just magnificent pickle haha!)
Today I YouTube’d a recipe (it was too early to call my aunt for her recipe and I was too impatient to wait) and made a small bottle of pickle. It’s now sitting on my kitchen window sill providing me with a feeling of small accomplishment (for I am not a pickle or preserve maker) and a photograph for Instagram. I wonder if it will taste any good or will I have to bin it and start all over again with my next shopping list.