Awesome # 11: Chinese Star Anise

Admittedly, I’ve been having trouble sleeping since returning to Tasiujaq. From tempestuous winds throwing my house into an inconstant and, thus, much too perceptible seesaw, to howling dogs, to this overstimulated noggin of mine, I’ve found myself awake far too often in the wee hours of the night as of late.

So, when my alarm went off at 6:45 this morning, I knew this would be problematic and that not even my strongest of coffees and a double dose of vitamin D would be sufficient to perk this gal up. Yet, because no amount of wishing could change the fact that it’s Friday – a day full of teaching – I had to peel myself out of bed and start my day.

To the kitchen I went. Coffee and oatmeal.

As I rummaged through my stack of spice containers for nutmeg (which had fallen to the near-bottom of the stack from its usual place at the top during yesterday’s bannock baking affair), I stumbled upon a small, unopened container of chinese star anise. I’d bought this in my “Bulk Barn Shopping Spree of Epic Proportions” in August (along with a varying measurements of virtually every other spice they had in stock), as I prepared my year’s supply of dry cargo to ship to the north. To date, its culinary usefulness has been nonexistent, as I never seem to remember to order anything in my groceries that it will complement as a seasoning. However, its olfactory usefulness – particularly this morning – cannot be embellished.

During my Bachelor of Education – when my impending “move” to China had me completing a full semester of assignments, readings and research in half the time and, thus, hindering my slumber – I’d discovered this lady and her soap at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market. In need of a morning pick-me-up, she recommended her star anise soap. I fell in love – just smelling it through its wrapper revealed the perkiest of black licorice-like fragrances, and its ability to inundate the senses had me wide awake the moment water sprinkled upon the bar.

Alas, being far removed from this lady and her soap, I’d not one bar to which I could resort this morning. But, after a few moments of inhaling my little container of anise, I found not much less instantaneous rejuvenation. It was fleeting, but it was definitely satisfying. So, however ephemeral, the scintillating power of chinese star anise is my awesome of the day.

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