Powdered Black Sesame Dessert

Brand: Torto

Cost: 38 KR

Found At: Asian Market

When I first moved to a foreign country (in China, back in 2014), I was completely overwhelmed. It took me a long time to adjust to a place where everything was different – the language, the culture, the layout of the city – and I struggled to find something I could cling to: something that would give me some stability in my otherwise unpredictable life. And quite accidently, I found powdered black sesame mush.

I had located a grocery store – really more of a kiosk – and I had bought the first thing that I thought I could identify – oatmeal packets. On the back were pictures that outlined the preparation: open packet, put in bowl, add in water. This I could understand. Except they were not oatmeal packets – the packets were full of a strange grey powder that I couldn’t identify. But I was so exhausted from the effort of going to the store that I just gave up and followed the instructions anyway: open packet, put in bowl, add water. To my surprise, when I finally worked up the courage to taste the black sludge that this had produced, it was not actually all that unlike oatmeal. It clearly wasn’t oatmeal, but it was hot and mushy and sweet and tasted of sesame – it was close enough.

So, I started eating it for breakfast. It was still different than what I was used to, but it was tasty and it was close enough to familiar to be the anchor I needed to get through those first few months. I did not know what each day would bring – but I knew what I would have for breakfast, and I knew that I would like it. And most days, that’s all I needed.

And now I learn that it’s also supposed to be good for you. I’ve seen it at the Whole Foods and a few specialty health-food markets over the past few years as a diet food/vitamin-supplement/health craze. With the amount of sugar that must be in there I have my doubts about its efficacy, but I personally hope that it becomes the next big thing – mostly for my own hipster vanity. I love to think that my young, lost, confused self accidently stumbled across the health food of 2020.

Though, of course, that ignores the fact that the Chinese were in on the secret several hundred years before I ever adopted it for my breakfast.

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