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Triggering memories

Smell is one of the most powerful memory triggers for me (and most people, I believe). For example, the fragrance of rain soaking the parched Texas soil, dripping off creosote bush and greasewood reminds of me of a magical day when a plethora of baby frogs came out to frolic in the blessed moisture; and because I smelled this same fragrance in another place, a second memory follows on the heels of the first: the time I tried to run away from home.  I must have been six at the time, and I got tired of dragging the cardboard box of my belongings so I gave up and went back to the house. 

But yesterday, it wasn't a smell that took me down memory lane as we picnicked by the Loire. It was a taste.

I've never been big on sardines, canned or otherwise, but during our last trip to Madagascar, we had to eat cans and cans of them.  A five-day canoeing/hiking/sightseeing tour we took included food, and the food of choice for our guides was sardines. I won't say I grew fond of them, but I did overcome my original skepticism concerning their edibility when that was all there was to be had.

So, yesterday, when Julien decided to eat sardines for our picnic, I grabbed a box for myself. And the taste took me right back to Madagascar and one day in particular.

We had just finished the three-day canoeing portion of our trip and, while waiting for our oxen-drawn carts to be loaded, had lunch just outside the "village" (three shacks, a boui-boui--hole-in-the-wall restaurant or street-vendor type eating establishment--and a dirt ramp leading down to the river to accommodate canoeists who can go no further due to the shallowness of the water).   

The village children gathered around us, hanging back just far enough not to incur the wrath of our guides, as they waited for us to finish our sardines.  As soon as the fish was gone, a child would run forward to accept the can still full of oil, which they would drink down with delight, then,  with grimy fingers, scoop out any remaining bits of sardines and seasonings.

It was a bittersweet thing to witness standing, as we were, at the chasm that divides those with too much from those with too little.

ETA: My love is the one who took these photos, btw, not moi. I'll try to remember to attribute next time. :P


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Your photos are beautiful. And yes, what a chasm.

I cook with tinned mackerel all the time, and I love to scoop out the last of the oil and mackerel flakes with some cooked rice. But for me, it's not a lucky treat, the way it wsa for those kids.
Aug. 5th, 2010 08:41 am (UTC)
These particular photos are my husband Julien's, so I'll tell him you said so. :D
Aug. 5th, 2010 12:38 am (UTC)
On two separate incidents recently, the smell of food has pulled me back into my childhood. One was the tangy green scent of mango peel; the other the rich cinnamony smell of baked sweet potato. So weird.
Aug. 5th, 2010 08:38 am (UTC)
It's amazing how smell can do that! The transportation can be so profound.
Aug. 8th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
Wow... bittersweet is definitely the way to go to describe that.
Aug. 9th, 2010 08:53 am (UTC)
Yes, very mixed feelings...
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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