While on a walk, I went into a store branded as European Foods. I've been craving some small homey pleasures, such as proper white cheese and kaiser buns, so I went in hopeful. I was mildly disappointed when it turned out to be yet another Russian specialty store.
Finding real Polish tastes in Vancouver is often hard. We don't have a strong community here, there is not even a single restaurant nearby, so I have to either crave or decide to approximate. Russian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, and German opportunities have been serving me well so far, even if they're ever so slightly off. Off in the same way as going to another part of your country and tasting the national dish prepared in a regional way - a little bit less salty, a little bit more spicy. Close, but not grandma's cooking exact.
I got "Salt Fat Acid Heat" and have been enjoying how it helps me be more aware of my cooking, of understanding the subtle differences between cuisines. How the amount and timing of seasoning makes a huge difference. How certain tastes just can't be replaced, because of the complex interactions between all the parts of the whole.
It made me realize that everything really changes - even if it's the same me cooking the same dishes, the outcome is going to be different because I'm too far from home. The water tastes different. I used to think only water in Warsaw is good and after two years in Vancouver, I can no longer enjoy water back home. That "home" is changing, becoming closer to where my books and my cats are, where I lay my head to sleep every night next to my partner.
That some tastes will only be memories and I might keep looking for them forever, never truly being able to experience them again. My great-grandma's bread - gone. My mom's latkes, as much as I dreaded them as a child - unattainable.
I thought that becoming vegetarian is going to have the most pronounced impact on my cooking, but it turns out it's the simple things. It's the basic ingredients that I can only approximate.
One more reason to find joy and peace within constant change.