That Scene in Ratatouille

I work in a kitchen that is built into a sort of warehouse.  It has terrible ventilation and gets stiflingly hot in the summer.  We’ve found that if we raise the large bay door in the receiving area behind the kitchen, then prop open the door in front of the kitchen, we can sometimes wrangle a decent cross-breeze to cool us down.

One hot afternoon we were running this system, and riding a beautiful cross-breeze.  So much so that the catering menus and prep lists pinned to the walls were flapping and waving at us.  I was cutting chickens at a work bench opposite another cook who was slicing fennel.  I was downwind, so to speak, and during one warm gust the anise-type aroma of the fennel hit me with the breeze.

It was a strange and swift collision of circumstances: the distinct smell of anise, the warm rushing air, and in the periphery, the fluttering papers.  I stopped working for just a moment.


Lisa and I arrived in the village of Dryos, on the island of Paros, after a long ferry ride that had us curing in cigarette smoke under a sweltering Mediterranean sun.  When we reached our temporary residence in the village, the sun had set, and the wind had picked up.  Our apartment adjoined a courtyard with lime trees.  We sat in the yard, and a waiter named Jack served us ouzo mixed with ice water.

I remember very distinctly the smell of the anise liqueur, the warm rushing wind, and in the periphery, the fluttering leaves of the lime orchard.