Written for the Apostrophe UK competition about a memory related to food in honour of Muriel Barbery’s The Gourmet.
We giggle, we laugh, we take a breath and a pause, and we face a precipitous one hundred and fifty stairs to reach it. We break our journey up with the driest white port and salty butter beans; they taste like the sea, they taste like the Tejo might as it reaches its mouth.
We reach the corner and turn around, we gasp. The castle stands proud against the hillside with tiny little lights picking out the alleys, little lights that signify conversations like ours. Intimate and close.
Our destination, a darkly grained table splashed with candle wax, wine stains and olive oil; we taste fragrant herbs and olives as we recount the time we were apart. You order little tartlets and I a salad.
It is preceded by a fragrance of my garden, nasturtiums and strawberries, it arrives, is placed in front of me and we marvel. It is a still life of colour which bleeds out of the bowl. Mozzarella nestles between leaves of every green hue, kiwi fruit, flower heads, strawberries, and mango. Nuts and splashes of pesto and oil tell me where to sink in my fork. It is all I have looked for during the last six months. No rice, no chips, no fried, no grilled, no salty proteins, no overcooked broccoli, just this, this sublime breath of fresh air.
We giggle, we laugh, and we take a pause. We cry. How I missed you so, these long six months have been a revelation, a distress and a journey. We smile, it is over and we have begun again.