It is said that certain stimulus to our senses like sight, taste, touch, hearing or smell can trigger us to recall certain memories. For example, hearing an old familiar tune may bring back memories of hanging round the jukebox with close childhood friends at the neighbourhood soda fountain shop. My wife has always said that smells remind her of things in her life.
I tend to be more a visual and tactile person and never imagined how a smell may jog a memory. At least until today. Today, I came home to the smell of my wife cooking a traditional Malaysian Chinese sweet dessert called “Fu-chuk yi mai tong sui”. This dessert is made by boiling pearl barley (yi mai), soya beancurd skin (fu-chuk) and gingko nuts together. It is sweetened with rock sugar and flavoured by the essence from pandan leaves.
The picture above shows a pandan plant with its fragrant leaves. For those readers who are unfamiliar with the pandan, it is used in Southeast Asian cooking to flavor rice, meats and desserts. The flavor and fragrance is very similar to that found in fragrant jasmine rice. Anyway, for the sake of this post, suffice to say that it is a very distinctive and delectable fragrance.
And, for the very first time that I am aware of, I had a most vivid memory flash triggered by a smell; the smell of the pandan leaf. The smell reminded me of my mother.
My mother used to wear a really strong perfume which many people associate with her but that used to provoke asthma attacks for me. So my fond memories of my mother is tied to the pandan fragrance cause it brings back childhood memories of being in her kitchen and pestering her while she concocted all kinds of culinary delectables. She was a great cook. Later in life, the pandan fragrance was still associated with her as she used the pandan leaf in her home made version of potpourri.
For me, the pandan fragrance truly is sweet.
Which of your five senses triggers powerful memories for you?
P.S. Note to self. Today was Deacon Day.