The month of August kicked off in the best possible way.
It started with a very well-planned and well-deserved trip (more commonly referred to within our social media posts as #WeekendOfWine) to Kelowna, in the Okanagan. A 4-5 hour drive from Vancouver (or 6 hours, if you happen to make the very necessary pit stop in Hope for a quick bite) resulted in one of the most relaxing and sumptuous experiences one could have here in British Columbia. And if you couldn’t already tell from the photos below, the Okanagan is certainly worth the drive.
The mention of a “wine tour” probably conjures up images of National Geographic-esque scenery of rolling Californian fields, or a group of octogenarians in oversized hats/visors sipping casually at a Merlot, or middle-aged women floating between grapevines under a Tuscan sun. Instead, our “wine tour” was redefined to include a very fresh-faced young couple, a chatty pair with a wonderful sense of humour (and love for getting drunk) and four 20-somethings, packed in a van, hitting up six different wineries, and revelling in the idea of being day-drunk on the Long Weekend, away from home.
And happily, right before, during and a little after our #WeekendOfWine, I was able to indulge in two absolutely great reads.
Both books are vastly different – but both appeal to the senses, and are written in a gorgeous manner, evoking taste and smell. Cheryl Lu-Tien Tan’s memoir, A Tiger in the Kitchen, is a retelling of her rediscovering her Chinese-Singaporean roots through food, as cooked by her grandma. A former fashion writer with Salon, Tan travelled back to Singapore after losing her job during the 2008 recession, with the goal of conquering some famous Singaporean recipes with the help of her family. Tan’s memoir doesn’t skimp on the details on why her recipes are so amazing – and it helps! A food-oir shouldn’t lose such important details, and it assists with Tan’s flashbacks and memories of her childhood. Tan’s book is also a great read, especially for Asians feeling disjointed from their culture after living in a Western environment for most, if not all, their lives – Tan goes through the same awkward stages of trying to reclaim her heritage, and finding out history. I loved this book.
Patrick Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a fictional novel that focuses on Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an anti-hero who, through his remarkable sense of smell, sets off on his own journey of capturing the world’s greatest scents – through murder. How a book can so deftly describe smells, and the emotional responses we manifest from smell, is a testament to Süskind’s literary skill. It’s narrated by an omniscient tone, and I dare every reader to not fall in love with the descriptions of Grenouille’s olfactory talents. It was adapted into a film in 2006, and I will make it a sure goal to watch it by the end of the month.
What the trip & the two books reminded me was just how often we take for granted these two senses: taste and smell. We use it everyday, but the books especially reminded me (with profound literary gusto) just how complementary they are to our common experiences.
Besides blowing away our expectations, the wine tour was a great visual, olfactory and gustatory experience. Within a day, we got to see for ourselves pockets of green vines in a dry, almost desert-like landscape. Within a day, we got to smell the spices, oak and fruit tones of wines. And within a day, we tasted the difference between well-marketed but cheap, watery wine and what was sumptuous, deserving wine. What an experience. Oh, and of course, watching Mr. Darcy & Ms. Elizabeth Bennett go through love in 2004’s Pride & Prejudice. *swoon*.
But more concisely, the trip was definitely an overload of experiences – and it went to show me how often we don’t take in our surroundings with our senses. All it takes sometimes is that one moment where you pause and look around where you are; it’d be highly superfluous of me to suggest everyone take a wine tour to do this. Instead, next time you’re on your way to work or even doing a grocery trip, take a second to relish what you have around you. Take in the sights of the urban landscape, or maybe the smells of the summer rain on the ground, or even the taste of crisp, cold water. Personally, I found it grounded me and allowed me to be a little more … I don’t know, grateful? At the risk of sounding like a modern-day-preacher-cum-hedonist, I guess it’s always a nice reminder to take in moments, and take things a minute at a time, especially in rare times of calm.
With that, I’ll end my post with a reminder to:
- check these books out
- pause and indulge in your surroundings (when you can!) and
- let me know what books you’re reading! I’m looking for that next post, please!