I met a girl in a spice store the other day and she was from New York. At one point she even lived on Thompson and Spring, like me. She probably patted my dog! (Everyone did.) So of course we got chatting about how much we loved it and how much we missed it and yet how Melbourne had become a kind of panacea for all that homesickness.
“I think Melbourne has all the good bits of New York,” the girl announced, and I surprised myself by agreeing.
“The amazing food, and restaurants hidden down secret laneways,” I said.
“The awesome live music scene,” she said. “And I walk everywhere here, just like I did in New York.”
“Oh yeah!” I said, “And it’s mostly flat like New York.”
And on we went. And on and on and on. And so I discovered that I really did love this city, and that perhaps I had found somewhere to call “home” at last, something I’d yearned for, ever since I left New York.
“Melbourne is really similar to New York except that it’s-- it’s--” the girl said, and she flailed in the air with her hands to find a way to finish her sentence.
“Less concentrated?” I prompted, and she said, “Exactly!” I had found a kindred spirit.
The girl managed the best smelling store I had ever come across, anywhere. You know in the cartoons when a character smells something really good and follows the delectable aroma, nose in the air, for several blocks before finally discovering the source? That was me, following my nose through the door of this store.
Inside were more than 200 different hand-ground, hand-mixed herbs, spices, and blends, and it was nose heaven. Without intending to spend a cent, I left after 20 minutes with $70 worth of tea, spices, cupcake wrappers and paper straws in my bag, alongside a booklet outlining cooking classes that I totally plan to take.
I was half way to the post office before I managed to give myself a shake and think, “What just happened?”
The name of the store is completely unpronounceable: say “Gewurzhaus Herb & Spice Merchants” three times quickly if you dare. But it is a happy place.
Melbourne peeps: do you want to join me for cooking classes? I’m dead keen on the yum cha and ‘From Persia with love’ classes, but open to the others too. They all look great. Send me an email if you’re up for it.