Saturday, August 02, 2008

Majorca, Zagreb, Larnaca, Tel Aviv

William Boyd's "The Things I Stole", a short story in a vein I particularly like (the plausibly rendered first-person narrator, so that it seems almost as though it's a personal essay rather than a story):
I stole food at my boarding school. We were allowed a modest food parcel once a week (like POWs) from a local grocer: a few bananas, a box of dates, mini-packs of cornflakes - no buns or cakes, no chocolates, nothing that could be purchased from the school tuck shop where fizzy drinks, colas, biscuits and every tooth-rotting sweet the confectionery industry could serve up were on offer.

In my house there was a very rich Greek boy whose food parcel might have come from Fortnum & Mason, such was its size and magnificence. I and my coevals pillaged this boy's food with no compunction (he was plump and cried easily). It was thanks to Stavros's food parcel that I developed my enduring taste for Patum Peperium, Gentleman's Relish, a dark, pesto-like spread made from anchovies. It is my Proustian madeleine - it summons up all my early pilfering. I can taste its earthy, farinaceous salinity now.

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