At Bryn Gwlad’s Candlemas event this year, the event was persona-themed. Classes were built around growing and enhancing your persona. We also had a brewing competition, which followed the rules of the Interkingdom Brewing Guild. In addition to that, though, we were expected to write a short story explaining how our persona would have come to make their brew. They were accepting nonalcoholic submissions, so I gladly tossed my sekanjabin into the ring. It scored a 95 and I am the new Brewing Champion for Bryn Gwlad (!!!).
I was asked to share the persona story I wrote to accompany the sekanjabin.
I am but a simple merchant.
My father is a merchant out on what is known as the Isle of Skye. We go back and forth between Portree and the great Scottish city of Edinburgh, where he met my mother. I know every mile of coastline between my two homes.
We bring goods from the Scots out to our fellow Danes. In my years of sailing, we have rarely gone farther than these two points. I sailed to London, once, and vowed never to return.
However, last year, my father declared it was time for me to visit the land of Persia, as he had done in his youth. We would sail around the great coast of the Franks, Portugal, Aragon, visit the Holy See, sailing through a large sea, visiting many ports until we reached the dominion of the Ayyubids, who hold the Holy City of Jerusalem.
“It is important to know other places and understand from where things come,” he told me.
So we sailed. We sailed to places so warm I thought I would melt through the deck of the ship, its hold heavy with wool and other goods for trade. I stood amongst the Romans, gazing upon 1000-year-old stoneworks so grand as to make me weep. Our reception amongst the Ayyubids was warmer than I had expected and we found ourselves the guests of a merchant whose goods we had acquired for years, although my father and his had only met face-to-face once, more than thirty years ago.
I was offered a drink which smelled of befouled honey. Our host laughed at my face. “It is good to drink,” he promised, taking a sip from his own cup.
“It smells bad,” my father said, “but he is right. It sets your body to rights and you will feel better for drinking it.”
I took a polite sip, then drank more. I felt as though cool water were trickling down my own ribs. I felt oddly restored.
“I can hardly taste the vinegar at all!” I said, amazed.
Our host nodded. “It is called sekanjabin. It will keep you healthy and hydrated on long journeys where water is scarce, whether in the desert or upon the great sea.”
During our time with our host, I tried many new flavors, many of which I had only heard of. Rosewater and pomegranate were my two favorites and when I learned that sekanjabin came in many varieties, I had to experiment. There had to be a way to bring the delicious flavors of the Holy Lands back to our people.
In our host’s kitchen, I put together this drink of pomegranate and rosewater, hands dyed red in the process. I added ginger to soothe stomachs prone to seasickness. We brought back three crates full of wax-sealed glass bottles of my special sekanjabin. We sold some in London, nearly all the rest in Edinburgh, and kept just three for ourselves and friends back on Skye. This bottle is one of those. For me, all I have to do is take a small sip and I am transported back to our friend’s home.
Come, taste the drink of the Holy Lands.