Gift
 
It was August 1954 I awoke.
Rationing had ended the month before,
so for eleven years I had only known
the war-time British loaf, scraps of cheese,
smears of butter not tasting much at all.

For a while there was Snook.
Lumps of fish in large cans
to be used instead of meat.
It’s taste was so foul all supplies were
converted to cat food; poor cats.

I’d travelled to Sweden,
alone; my first trip overseas.
Harwich to Götenburg, sharing a cabin
with three farmers from Suffolk.
I still open boiled eggs the way they did.

My first lunch was a large bread roll,
crackling crust stuffed full with cheese.
I remember feeling disappointed,
can’t remember why, dinner at home
was often bread and dripping.

But when I bit into it, the shock.
So much flavour filled my mouth.
How could bread taste so good
just like the smell when it bakes
and the texture, crust and crumb?

Butter, dark yellow, thick spread
tasting of… I can’t think… delicious.
Layers of fine-sliced cheese
fresh, sharp, creamy, memorable;
shaved by a strange flat tool.

There must have been many other
more curious, flavoursome dishes
I only remember the cheese roll
that gifted me an awareness
of the joy of food and artistry of cooks.

© Anthony Fisher April 2015

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