I remember being 6 years old and loving applesauce–it was one of my favorite after school snacks. I distinctly remember one afternoon, dumping a pile of applesauce into a bowl and making my way over to the spice rack to add some cinnamon. I was still learning to read, and I remember deliberating with myself, “Does cinnamon have a y in it? No…yes…no…yes I’m pretty sure it does.” I unknowingly grabbed the cayenne pepper and generously dumped it on my applesauce. I excitedly plopped down in my chair and began to divulge in my afternoon treat, only to be rudely awakened by the sting of spice. Needless to say, I remembered how “cinnamon” was spelled from that day on.
I never lived that story down. I lived with a roommate my first two months here and morning oatmeal was something I found myself looking forward to. Upon moving into a dorm by myself I was sure to buy the ingredients for my morning oatmeal: oats, sugar, milk, and cinnamon. Yes, I know how to spell cinnamon. In English anyway. I found myself on the spice aisle staring at all of the dark brown spices unable to read the names printed in the local language. So I guessed. I came home, and gave it a taste. Tasted good to me! I enjoyed it in my oatmeal.
That was 6 months ago. Just yesterday I made waffles for some of my Asian friends (one of them liked hot sauce on their waffle!). Among the toppings I provided was this cinnamon I had bought 6 months ago that I had not finished using. An American friend joined us, saw the cinnamon and asked,
Stupid question, I thought. “Cinnamon,” I said.
“Oh,” she said, “it smells like nutmeg or something.”
“No, it’s cinnamon,” I assured her.
Today as I perused the spices in one of my friend’s cabinets, I noticed cinnamon on the shelf. I was taken aback as I noticed it had a different name than my cinnamon. I had done it again. What I had thought was cinnamon over these last 6 months was actually some special spice used for making Asian cake!