One of my favorite breakfast foods as a kid was peanut butter toast. It wasn't anything exotic — usually just some sort of squishy store-bought whole-wheat sandwich bread toasted and slathered with creamy peanut butter (I was happily raised on JIF).
But I grew up, and so did my taste. I found myself wanting to upgrade the toast situation, while still maintaining that nostalgic flavor. And I did — but with an adventurous twist!
Eventually I nixed the peanut butter entirely and replaced it with something that rivals it. No, I am not talking about almond butter — I am talking about tahini. For breakfast one morning, when I just so happened to be out of peanut butter, my foggy morning brain thought it could potentially play the same role. And indeed it did; the sesame seed paste that's most commonly used to make hummus makes a very worthy substitute.
Tahini isn't an ingredient that one single culture or country can lay claim to. Historically, it has been consumed widely across Northern Africa and the Middle East and Mediterranean. There's only one person who can boast an influence over such a swath of land, and that's Alexander the Great.
Now, whether he was actually toasting up a slice of bread and spreading with tahini — and marveling its earthy, slightly bitter complexity or how much it tastes like halva when you add a drizzle of honey — is unlikely. But there is something to be said about the idea that he could have if he wanted to. And that shared possibility gives me the feeling that I might be able to go out and conquer the day, discover something unknown before, or maybe even build an empire of my own because of it.