I experienced my first pang of homesickness today. Nothing major, but it came out of nowhere and seemingly from nothing, as most homesickness does.
Morning break had swung around at school, and as usual, omiyage was available in the teachers room. Never one to pass up something sweet, I opted for a really tempting 'Russian cookie.' Ironically it was made in Japan with Japanese ingredients - I doubt it was even shown a picture of Russia before it was neatly packed in with a dozen others and shipped out. That's industry for you.
From the assortment I picked the sweetest and jammiest-looking specimen and scuttled away to my desk with a mug of green tea. The wrapper came away quickly - it wanted to be eaten! I bit halfway into it and even before I started to crunch it the doughy, nutty flavour punched a hole through my memories like my finger through a Japanese paper screen (dammit!).
My mind flashed back to when I was younger, when my nan and my ma used to make peanut crunch biscuits. I remember how excited I used to be when I arrived at my nans to smell a fresh batch baking in the oven. I would go outside to play, knowing full well that after I had thoroughly enjoyed myself, a further treat was in store for me when I returned. Usually the waiting would be too much, and I'd return early to press my face against the oven, drool, and receive 3rd degree burns. My nan would separate the batch, wrap the biscuits in clingfilm or foil - or sometimes a length of kitchen roll - and press them into my eager little hands. A moment would pass between us as she saw the delighted look on my little face, and if I was given extra biscuits an occasional "don't tell mum" look would pass, unspoken, between us.
And in an instant all those years (and miles) were bridged impossibly quickly with a cookie masquerading as something it wasn't. A Russian cookie that wouldn't know Russia if it was violently chomped by a vodka-swigging, tap-dancing bear.
I must be getting soft, a cookie almost made me cry.