During my travels I have rarely missed things other than the odd piece of chocolate or salty liquorice. Except for—on one memorable occasion—apples.
I was about to travel through Africa on my own. The group had split up and I was somewhere so utterly foreign that it may have well been on another planet, although one where people spoke French. I was wracked with longing for the rain-streaked streets of home, picturing myself sitting in the back of our old VW Beetle, behind both my parents, and staring out of the windscreen on our way back from town.
I had to forcefully remind myself that my father was dead. But the taste of apples remained in my mouth. We’d had a lot of apple trees in the garden. The shelves in our cellar were full of tiny, wrinkly apples that would last almost all year.
I pined for a while. But returning home was never an option. And one day, when I’d continued my journey, I found some strange berries on the market and bought a few of them, since I’ve always been curious about strange fruit.
They tasted exactly like apples.
I’ve never found these berries again. But I didn’t need to: the craving and the home sickness were gone.
And the morale of the story? Other than for a few pieces of salty liquorice I’m not in the habit of taking home comforts with me because the things you enjoy at home rarely taste right when you’re travelling. The craving for salty liquorice or the odd piece of chocolate is physical and fleeting. When I got my backpack stolen in Indonesia I didn’t miss my remaining liqs all that much. But when I went to Barcelona to do my TEFL certificate, I took teabags with me. I figured I needed them, and I was right.
They worked us hard and the tea gave me comfort, just as those berries once did.
A mug of milky tea is a piece of home.