The Aromas of Food and the Ocean

Waves crashed onto white rocks and a residual ocean mist lightly kissed my face. I sat there, taking in the sun and water, while miles away in my memory I could still smell the aromas of my aunt’s Chicken Arroz Caldo. Garlic, onion and ginger mixed together in a medley of soup that comforted me on cold Saturday mornings. I sniffed, and the aromas of my childhood suddenly mixed with the smell of the salty sea. The fragrance of the ocean overpowered the aromas in my memory and I panicked. I didn’t want to forget the smell. I didn’t want to forget the taste. I didn’t want to forget. Then I knew that I would never quite forget. Smell and taste are so closely linked to our memories – somehow our olfactory systems take in the aromas and flavors and they become stored in our brains as much as they are kept within our hearts. Somehow, I realized that the smell of the ocean was not overpowering the smell of my aunt’s soup, but in a way triggered memories of my childhood. I didn’t grow up going the ocean/beach, because in a way, the water seemed worlds away [even though I lived in San Diego]. Rusty trolley tracks and freeways felt like barriers before I could get to the ocean. Yet on a Saturday morning many years ago, when stomachs were full of Chicken Arroz Caldo, I went to the beach with my aunt. So as I continued to sit on the rocks in Hopkins Marine Station, I smiled, realizing how interconnected everything seemed to be. The smell of the food, the smell of food, and the smell of my aunt’s hair – they all came together somehow.

Food. People. Ocean.

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Top: Chicken Arroz Caldo that I made for a final project for Sophomore College. Bottom: View waves crashing @ Monterrey

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