The Sense of Taste and Smell

These two senses, that us as humans are gifted with, really have the power to transport us back in time, though in the wink of an eye, you revisit a place where you associate that smell or taste! For me today, after we got the children fed and packed into the car for their school runs, I raided the fruit bowl. On this occasion, not to make one of Dadda’s Jams, rather a fruit salad that would transport me back in time. Not to just any single moment, but a plethora of moments and places. I have waited a couple of weeks for the honeydew and Cantaloupe melons to ripen sufficiently, also the large, plump mango has sat there for several days to maximise its sweetness. The already ripe papaya arrived in the Tesco shop yesterday, meaning that today we had lift off! I imagine that you all remember your last tropical holiday and the breakfast buffet you grazed on each and every day! Well it’s the fruit selection I am thinking about today. The sweetness of these four fruits seem to make them firm favourites in hotel, breakfast catering, the world throughout. But when I think of these fruits, when they are fully ripened, I feel the warmth around me and the sun on my face. With closed eyes, I am transported back, to memories of India and Thailand, even the elevated heights of Kathmandu, above the world and at that time, also above the monsoon clouds over the Indian sub continent.

In Kathmandu it was summertime, I had just arrived and it was clearly mango season. You could see old men on bicycles, with large round racks on the rear, piled so high with ripe, yellowing mangos. It was always a matter of haggling, but by that point, I was not naive and always got a good price, so unlike my earlier days in Mumbai, where it seemed that absolutely everybody wanted to make something out of a gullible westerner. Well the hotel I stayed at on my arrival in Kathmandu was quite spacious and built in the traditional Newari style. There was just me staying there really. Most of the aid workers that had arrived, post earthquake had gone home, so just me for breakfast then. Coffee, toast with home made mango jam and a bowl of fresh mango on the side, that was breakfast. Delving back further to the Marriott apartments on Langsuan in Bangkok, I always enjoyed a hearty breakfast of a full English, but preceded by a large bowl of locally grown melons, mango and papaya. There was always pineapple as an option, though I do like it, I found the sweetness of the melon, butteriness of the papaya and the melting texture of the mango, just the right combo. Further back still, my time in India saw a profusion of fresh fruit. Many memories, too many to recount, but from within the fruit bowl I have just enjoyed, I saw my own route and the steps I took towards fatherhood and the moments that both John and I encountered, in order to make our family complete. All that from a bowl of fruit. I should probably stick to cornflakes…

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A Gay Dad reflecting on life in the Shires of England with my not so famous five and two rapscallion Dalmatian hounds

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