Five years ago, my family and I travelled to the Bahamas. It was an incredibly long and draining journey. We left at five in the morning to get on a plane from Hannover to Frankfurt. In Frankfurt we took another plane to Miami (which took a whopping ten hours) and then from Miami to Nassau. All that looks very neatly wrapped up in that one sentence. But we travelled with a six year old child and none of us had gotten much sleep the night before.
On the ten-hour flight me and my mum sat next to a child that was basically screaming its lungs out. We couldn’t fall asleep for the life of us.
At immigration, my parents started fighting because my dad told my mum how well he slept. They wouldn’t talk until we were at the airport in Nassau (yes, seriously).
The point of me telling you all this is that the Bahamas were breathtakingly beautiful. But travelling can also be very, very exhausting.
When I think back to that holiday, I remember one night especially well. It was the third day we were there. We had finally settled in, caught up on our sleep and gotten into “relaxation mode“ as my dad likes to call it. In the evening we went to an intimate restaurant in our hotel. It was beautifully decorated, dark wooden walls and palm trees in every corner.
But the food. Oh, the food.
It was incredible. I ordered a Jerk Chicken that I still think about five years later. The way my knife smoothly glided through the meat as if it were butter. How perfectly harmonised the spices exploded in my mouth. And the sweet aftertaste that makes me tell people if I ever had to choose a last meal it would be this heavenly creation of a chicken.
All this was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience. But I would no doubt prefer it sans the inevitable stress that comes with taking on such a journey.
I tried recreating the feeling I had that night in Nassau time and time again. I went to countless restaurants back home, and while the chicken was good too, it just wasn’t the same. The atmosphere in any restaurant just can’t compete with the surroundings of that evening. It almost had a personal touch to it because it was my experience. It felt like home so far away from home.
And then one fateful night, on my boyfriend and mines second anniversary, he planned the perhaps sweetest surprise anybody has ever done in the history of surprises.
When I got home after a day of running errands, I opened the door to dim lighting, potted palm trees and a private chef who, he announced, would prepare an authentic, Caribbean Jerk Chicken for us.
He introduced himself as Antony and after talking for a while, I found out that he was from the Bahamas himself.
While he disappeared into my kitchen, my boyfriend led me into my candlelit dining room where quiet jazz music was playing.
As Antony brought out our starter, I unconsciously turned on my “relaxation mode“ and I began to feel just like I did five years ago. I savoured every bite of the deliciously marinated King Prawns before, finally, the Jerk Chicken was on my beautifully garnished plate.
I admit, I was a little nervous after all this ado. What if it it wouldn’t live up to what I had imagined and I would have to act as if it did so that my boyfriend wouldn’t be disappointed?
Moment Of Truth
So I clinged onto my fork and knife as I carefully cut a bite-sized piece off it and slowly brought it up to my mouth. As soon as it touched my lips I was back in the Bahamas. I felt as if outside of my dining room a white, sandy beach and deep blue waves were awaiting me. I could practically taste the feeling of soaking up warm rays of sun while laying by the hotel swimming pool that began to quiet down during the late afternoon.
With every bite a new set of memories came flooding back to me. The smell of the ivory pages of the fascinating book I couldn’t put down. The soothing feeling of soft hotel bedsheets touching my skin while I was blissfully sleeping in. The refreshing drops of a cold shower after basking in the sun for hours and hours. All these memories, all brought back just my this delightful meal.
Maybe it was because my actual home was most similar to the “home away from home“ feeling I had in Nassau. But the combination of coming home after a stressful day, spending time with the person I love and enjoying a perfectly cooked dinner brought me right back.
The rest of the night went by in a blur, but I am absolutely certain that I will never forget this amazing recreation of a thought to be inimitable memory.