You know when you're just standing in the supermarket queue, minding your own, when a guy walks past wearing the exact same aftershave your old boyfriend did when you were 19, and suddenly you're back there, at that time, remembering how it felt to drink crappy cider and arguing about Pearl Jam?
I bet you get that with food too, right? Dishes or flavours that just take you back to somewhere else, and just drop you smack dab in a different place.
I had just that same thing happen to me this week, when I stumbled on a recipe for Spicy Mexican Pickled Carrots on About.com. Yep, human memory can be a wonderful thing. A wonderful, carroty thing.
I went travelling last year to Central America with my other half, and was lucky enough to spend a little time in Mexico. While we were there, if we went out to eat occasionally we'd get a little dish of spicy carrots served on the table before dinner.
When I came back, I forgot all about the carrots, until About.com reminded me. The simplicity of the recipe persuaded me - I needed to make some of those bad boys. Here's what happened:
Aside from its simplicity, the other wonderful thing about the spicy pickled carrot recipe is that it makes excellent use of the humble bay leaf. Turns out that pasta sauce-bothering greenery had hidden depths - depths that come out when you chuck ten of the blighters into the recipe. Who knew?
After letting a pot of them there carrots stew overnight, I tucked in. A few bites, and there I was, somewhere in Mexico with an oversized back pack and some schoolgirl Spanish. It was just like a tiny holiday, for the price of a bag of carrots and a few pickled jalapenos - that's a bargain, in anyone's language.