Driving home from work today, I was ravenous, not having had time for lunch. On a whim, I stopped by the local shop. I had an insistent, out of the blue craving for a fresh cream apple turnover.
More than 25 years ago, I was backpacking around New Zealand. I had spent a few days in Rotorua, sightseeing the geysers and thermal pools. My trip - which had already taken me to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Australia - was nearing its end and money was becoming tight. Waiting for the bus to take me back towards Auckland, I hadn't eaten any breakfast and was starving. There was a bakery just by the bus stop, and through the window I glimpsed a tray of fresh cream apple turnovers. My stomach growled and my resolve to save money by not eating until lunchtime crumbled. I bought one, and stood at the bus stop enjoying every glorious mouthful. It is amazing how much better food tastes when you are really, really hungry. It was just a simple pastry, but the memory of that turnover has stayed in my mind when memories of other, far grander meals have long since faded into oblivion.
I was musing on this today as I made my way to the chiller cabinet, where rows of eclairs, doughnuts and cream slices were displayed. And one - just one - fresh cream apple turnover. I had heard it calling my name!
I carried my prize back to the car. There, in the sunny car park, unembarrassed by the glances of other shoppers, I savoured every last bite. It's quite impossible to eat a fresh cream apple turnover without making a mess. Icing sugar powdering my nose, flakes of pastry on my shirt, sticky fingered, I licked my lips, enjoying it every bit as much as that other treat, long ago and far, far away. Different, but the same. Simple, but so, so delicious.
Sometimes the small pleasures in life achieve true greatness. This was just such an occasion.