Thursday, February 03, 2005

The roofers came today. Like trained soldiers assaulting a castle, they threw up their ladders, scurried up to the rooftop and fired up their tar roofing engines.

The owner told me they were doing several roofs that day. From the top of my roof you can see the entire downtown of san francisco, stacked up like a toy city. As they hop from roof to roof, walking through fumes thick as veils, I wondered, do they take time to appreciate the views?

"Ah yes. You and your sardines" a friend of mine used to say, and shake her head.
I have to admit that my love for sardines is visceral, almost savage.

I can trace this back to a hiking expedition in the mountains of Mexico. We were unprepared and had become at first disoriented and then, more clearly, lost. This was in a tropical area and so we fed our thirst by cupping our hands and drinking from springs, lapping up the water like dogs. The only food we had was a small can of sardines that one of us had brought, admittedly, as an afterthought.

I had never had sardines before but we opened up the can and carefully alloted one or two tiny fish to everyone. This was my first experience with sardines, then being presented as a precious delicacy. The smell, the texture of the fish, the fat and fragrance of the oil, and the saltiness produced such a euphoric feeling that I must have closed my eyes and moaned.

Perhaps this is how all food should be first experienced, from hunger, in a moment of desperation.

These days, I don't eat sardines that often because I do not want to dilute that sense of pleasure. When I do buy them it is as a treat, a gift. Each time I do, I get to re-experience that sense of a savage desire being sated.

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