Ever noticed how certain sounds, smells or tastes can take you back to the past, usually to times spent with family or friends enjoying spending time together.
The sound of a bell or a chime always takes me back to my years as a young mom. The ice cream van always had a chime which my little kids recognised from several streets away and, a couple of times a week we would all troops out to queue for small cones.
Trouble is that there were several ice cream vans who plied their trade in our area, every summer afternoon and rather than put up with having to refuse four preschoolers and the resulting tantrums, Dave and I would suddenly break out into “Ring a round the rosie” which would get the kids all excited as we danced round in a circle, all of them waiting for the “all fall down” part, which they loved. They never realized our ploy for diverting attention as they were having too much fun.
The smell of sugar caramelising immediately takes me back to my childhood Novembers in England, when November fifth meant bonfire night. Guy Falkes night always meant a big community bonfire on every piece of spare land throughout the neighbourhood.
For many weeks before children could be seen dragging all types of wood, from nearby thickets to the place where their bonfire was to be built. However natural wood was also supplemented with old furniture, lumber left over from building sites and quite often an upright piano.
Many people in the community would use Guy Falkes night as the time to get rid of granddad’s old chair or some other piece of no longer used furniture. This was very handy to sit on during the early part of the evening, and would be saved till last, so we didn’t lose our seats.
On the big night, most of the local moms would bring out some sort of treat, treacle toffee, parkin (which was a sticky ginger cake), black peas, which were really weird and potatoes that would be roasted in the embers. These were never cooked properly but would be burned on the outside and raw in the middle, however, standing out in the cold by the huge fire, nobody ever admitted that the potatoes were terrible, we all ate them and pretended they were delicious.
Grandma was a strict rationer of sweet stuff as she was always making dire predictions of rotting teeth. However, she always made toffee apples for bonfire night and the smell of caramel boiling on the stove would make my mouth water. She made about thirty of them so usually enough for each kid in the street. She always told me that I would get the leftovers, however there never were any, so my teeth didn’t get the opportunity to rot as my teeth were always scrubbed after my one solitary apple.
The smell of vinegar always brings back memories of fish and chips eaten whilst walking home from the cinema, so good when sprinkled with salt and malt vinegar and enjoyed with your sweetie. Fingers would carry the smell of the vinegar all the way home. Eaten with a knife and fork, on a plate will never be the same as those eaten in the cold night air, followed by exchanging salty kisses.
Today, I was walking with my daughter, in her home town on Vancouver Island. We spent a couple of hours in and out of stores, finishing up in the grocery store. When we came out and were lugging the bags back to the car, we decided to sit on a bench for a while.
While we sat there we got a wonderful smell of roasted meat wafting around the air. I thought it smelled rather like Italian sausage, on a grill, my daughter thought it seemed like garlic roast beef. We were wondering where the smell came from but there were no likely café’s around.
After a while we got up to go home and on walking away from the bench we noticed we were sitting outside the funeral parlour and crematorium! At first we were horrified at the remarks we had been making about the smells making our mouths water, then we saw the funny side of things and decided that the late departed loved one was probably an Italian guy who loved his garlic!
Very irreverent, but luckily the bereaved family were safely inside the building and didn’t hear our very unfortunate remarks.