Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On Trout, and Memories

When I was growing up, one of my eccentric maternal grandfather's hobbies was farming trout in the creek that ran through my grandparents' property in the Perth hills. I have many vivid memories of this setup: the netting around the enclosures, the smell of the big bin of trout food (very similar to kitten kibble!), the texture of the pole on the long-handled nets we used to catch them, the yellow of the fish innards when they were being gutted for cooking. Sometimes we'd catch, cook and eat them at my grandparents' house; other times, we'd be sent home with cleaned trout ready for cooking.

Inextricably linked with trout is the smell of lemon thyme, which grew in our herb garden and was always the herb of choice when Mum cooked the trout. It smells of warm evenings and sounds like honey bees and cicadas. It's one of the fundamental memory scents of my childhood home.

I was unexpectedly taken back there yesterday in Tesco, half a world away, when I came across a bunch of fresh lemon thyme in the herb section. It's so rare to see lemon thyme in the shops that I leapt at it, then sensibly put it back, saying to Ellie that we'd see whether they had trout at the fish counter first.

They did have trout, both whole and filleted. At the end of our shopping list, and in possession of two trout fillets, we went back for the lemon thyme... and it was gone.

I actually fought back tears, absurdly enough, but consoled myself with the thought of thyme and slices of lemon as a close second. We grabbed a lemon and headed for the checkout.

Naturally, seven hours later when we came to cook dinner, Ellie called me into the kitchen with a chagrined expression: the thyme we both thought was in the cupboard was not there. We must have run out without either of us putting it on the shopping list, I guess. Thwarted again.

So, I ended up having mixed herb and lemon trout, and yes, it was delicious. But next time I'm grabbing the lemon thyme first!

I had wanted to put up a photograph of Whistlepipe Gully where it runs through my grandparents' property, but it seems I don't have one. Instead, this is my family's herb garden in Glen Forrest, Western Australia, circa 1991.


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