Music, Pepper, and The True Spice of Life

I find the situation in Aleppo to be most distressing. Sadly, it is not new. Here is an essay I wrote, centered on Aleppo, some 15 months ago about both the loss and the resilience of the arts in times of war. Humbly submitted from my home in relative safety.

Before the Downbeat

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For me, it all began to sink in with the lack of a spice. As a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, and Middle Eastern food in general, I was searching a local specialty market for Aleppo pepper to complete the ingredients for a recipe. When I asked the proprietor for help, a nice gentleman originally from Lebanon, I was met with one of those hard stares that laid my Western cluelessness bare.

“You’ve heard what’s happening in Syria, no?” he asked.

The question was rhetorical. I needn’t answer and he pressed no further. We both knew that Aleppo is in Syria, in one of the bitterest zones of the ongoing civil war. I merely nodded and checked out with the exotic spices whose import was not yet affected by death and destruction.

“The only thing that I have come to find more astonishing than the human propensity for destruction is the…

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