(Sharing with us today is Katrina Winchester, who lived in Iraq and taught in the Medes School for 4 and a half years.
Now back in Nashville, TN, she still has a deep love for the people and places she remembers.)

IMG_20151002_155121356Granola is one of the foods I began making while living and teaching overseas in Iraqi Kurdistan. I never MADE granola in Nashville, TN; I simply went out and bought it—after finally deciding among the endless flavor choices! But in Kurdistan, finding granola in a supermarket was quite rare, even in our large city. So, that led to my interest, curiosity, and ambition to learn to make homemade granola.

Finding old-fashioned oats was no problem, though the size and texture was different than that we find in the States. Oil or butter, no problem…honey and cinnamon and almonds, found everywhere in Kurdistan. Vanilla was only available sometimes in some places. However, some desired ingredients for tasty granola were treasured gifts sent from America: pecans, brown sugar, dried blueberries or cranberries. Occasionally we could find dried cranberries in Kurdistan, but for a PRICE.

I tried many times, with many different flavor combinations. And when I finally found the perfect combination? Success was sweet!

Well, today I made granola in my kitchen in Nashville. I had never done that, not in my whole life. The ONLY place I’ve ever made granola was in my kitchen in Northern Iraq. So, the making of it seemed strange, yet familiar at the same time.

After a few minutes the yummy smell coming from the oven seemed also strange, yet familiar!

Seeing the finished product, my family smiled, and each one commented positively and affirmingly.

But just now I tasted it. I ate it. Of course, the same way I ate it in Kurdistan: first a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt, then sprinkle on the crunchy, sweet granola. I tasted it. And, you know what? I cried.

I could plainly SEE myself standing in my kitchen in Nashville but my mind and my heart were back in that city across the ocean. With my eyes shut I could almost convince myself I was there. It was a strange sensation. It tasted great, but also so bittersweet, not on my tongue, but in my heart.

I never knew granola could taste this way.