Rosemary and Roux
by Robert Beveridge

“You can’t throw a chickpea
in Addis Ababa and not hit
a spice market,” he told me
as we walked down the middle
of the dusty street, still dark,
arms weighed down with empty
gunny sacks. “They all sell
berbere, but every store has
their own secret recipe.” We felt
rain on our shoulders, ducked
into the doorway of a record shop.
He lit a cheroot, light from the match
grayish-blue from the reflection
of his stubble, as sharp in the four AM
dark as his jawline. The air filled
with frankincense. He drew. “And thus
while they all sell the same thing,
they all sell different things. A cook
can spend a lifetime trying berbere
from different shops and never find
the blend perfect for their own tongue.”
He picked a bone fragment out
of the gutter, examined it. “So, then,
what are we here for?” I asked. He
looked up, his grin wild. “What are we
here for? Why, my friend, raw materials.
We fill these sacks with the things
that make berbere and we mess around
from there until we find the perfect blend.”


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