I don’t know if Marcel Proust was a cook, but he certainly understood the link between food and memory; how a bite of something can take you back in time.
I felt this link keenly on my most recent visit to Qualicum Bay on Vancouver Island, a place that has become a home away from home. We walked out around noon from our rented beach house for a stroll along the shore. It was low tide, and as we walked in the direction of Denman Island we stopped by a rocky outcrop on the shore. I had been disappointed because this time of year doesn’t yield the bounty of beach oysters like the fall season, but lo and behold, we spotted some large oysters on the rocks and in the water and kept on seeing them as we explored further on the outcrop.
I cracked open a beautiful, big oyster as I balanced between rocks, slurping the cold, juicy meat. The saltwater took me back to early morning outings in Jamaica, when we would go diving with our boatman. The taste of the brine brought back the feel of the Caribbean and the lightness of floating in water, but I was still aware of the moment, perched on the rocks in Qualicum Bay, staring out at the snow-capped mountains across the cold water; two worlds intersecting in my mind.
I went after some submerged oysters, showing off some hard-won yoga skills. I pushed up my sleeves, got into a one-armed plank position and knocked an oyster off the side of a rock and picked up another from the seabed. We ended up gathering a nice collection and enjoyed the spoils that afternoon with a few fresh ones on the half shell, spritzed with fresh lime.