Featured in Panorama Sunday Magazine – 9 October 2016

Welcome to our new weekly Sunday Magazine. Each Sunday, we’ll bring you selected works from around the world, from travel poetry to fiction to photography. This week, we begin with our new series, Eaten, which pairs travel with gastronomy, in an essay by South African writer Ishay Govender-Ympa.

Blue cheese

Illustrated by Allen Shaw, Germany

My brother and I waited until we knew we were alone, and darted into the little pantry. The old fridge hummed and hissed and gurgled as the ice-water compartment jiggled its innards. That’s what we — me at age eight, and my brother, almost six — thought it sounded like then. Gently, I eased the fridge door open, waiting for the seal to release like an octopus relaxing the suction pads on a tentacle fastened to its prey. A satisfying ploop sound followed. I looked past the Flora margarine containers filled with mango pickles, the tub of ghee, the jug of milk, an enamel pot of sweet rice, and grabbed the paper plate sealed in shiny aluminium foil. We strained our ears. Convinced there were no adult footsteps in the vicinity, I peeled back the foil.

Something pungent, earthy like wet peat, hit my nostrils, immobilising my senses for a moment. The sensation carried, a wide-eyed passenger on a bullet train, a message transferred between 12 million olfactory receptors in the nasal cavity and an eight year old’s olfactory bulb. Friend, or foe?

“What’s that?” my brother asked about the smell, scrunching his face into a ball, while touching the red wax of a Gouda wedge on the plate. The Gouda we were familiar with. Our toasted sandwiches oozed with the yellow, almost-plastic cheese and thick slices of tomato on nights when Mother couldn’t face making another curry for dinner, which wasn’t too often.

Read the full story in Panorama Sunday Magazine.