A note from the cook: Back in 1999, when the soaring American dollar made eating in Canadian restaurants the bargain of the century, my wife and I (with our three little ones) spent a summer on study leave in Vancouver. We were broke, happy, reckless, and delighted to discover that in the Little India section of Cambie street for a mere four US dollars we could choose between a South Indian buffet on one side of the block and a North Indian buffet on the other, and at either one sample dishes, breads, and condiments to the point of indecency. This sort of gluttony became our Sunday tradition. On one of those Sundays, in a moment of self-control, we ventured across the street to an "African Indian" restaurant, where we were treated to a several course meal, starting with lemon soup, while the owner told us about the nearly 100,000 South Asians living for generations in Tanzania. (Lemon soup--strange how I sometimes forget how old I am, yet remember something I ate ten years ago.) On our way out he gave us a plastic bag of his home-made snack mix that included puffed rice, dried peas, fried noodles, sugar, pepper, raisins. It was salty, hot, with a hint of bitterness and a sweet finish. I ate it in one sitting. And so began my disillusion with American junk food.

Last time we visited, that little restaurant was gone. But this month's special recipe is a tribute to both the most fun movie of the year and that Tanzanian-Indian-Canadian snack mix. I've never actually heard of anything called "snacking granola" until I started making it--the idea is a granola to go with beer and football (or better yet, a movie with subtitles) rather than milk. Like the movie, this one is a little of everything--salty, sour, bitter, spicy, sweet. I've tried to keep the flavors modest and the heat under control, and of course, replaced all the processed carbs with whole grains, seeds, and extra fiber. Some of the spices have a centuries-old reputation for promoting health and a contemporary reputation for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar (fenugreek) or acting as an anti-inflammatory (turmeric)--so, despite the extra salt, this stuff has got to be good for you. My one disappointment was that all the reasonably priced peas contained artificial color, so I went with garbanzos. I hope you like it. Maybe this will be the next big thing in snack food.

We should be in production soon. Orders could start going out in a week and will continue until we run out. Don't wait too long--January's flavor sold out by the third week. And if you haven't seen the movie yet, here's my suggestion: order now, then as soon as your bag arrives, hide it in your coat pocket and go see the movie on the big screen before it's too late.

One last thing: if you're part of the "club" and know that this or any month's recipe is not for you--drop us a line and we'll plan to send you two Originola's.

Ingredients: oats (org), barley (org), Sucanat (org minimally processed cane sugar), honey, canola oil (expeller pressed), sunflower seeds (org), flax seeds (org), sesame seeds (org), peanuts, cashews, almonds, oat bran (org), wheat germ, coconut (org), fried garbanzo beans, pecan meal, raisins, oat fiber, rye (org), almond extract, Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, fennel seeds, fenugreek, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, cardamom powder, curry leaves, coriander, nutmeg, black pepper, cloves.

Written by Keith and Geoff

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