Food. How we taste and smell things can transport us back in time, making us feel old memories. We are so connected to what we eat on so many different levels, it is hard to sort out if it is the memory we are after or the actual food.
Yesterday I dropped off Alfonz and Daniel at the Duke Point Ferry Terminal by noon so that they could make their way over to the mainland to visit family and friends for the weekend. I was nominated to stay home with Angelina to keep her company during her two week quarantine. In the morning we picked up my new used car, a beautiful little white Tiguan with 90,000 km on it that someone used as a trade in on a Mini Cooper from the BMW dealership here in Nanaimo. I might just do the exact same thing next year once we settle in a bit better, returning to the efficient sales team with our guy Ben who negotiated our terms. We were a hard sell, but he managed to convince us. They did a very good job at making the car look and run like new. I had the exact same car twice before and the second I got in, I knew it was for me!
I left the parking lot quickly, waving out the window like a maniac because the first thought that went through my mind was ‘freedom’. I can drive where I like, eat what and when I like with noone to tell me what to do! After so long without a vehicle, I was very happy! SO, I went straight to Save-On-Foods to buy a few things for dinner. Angelina wanted salmon and salad and I was game. Then, I went straight up to KFC to grab some lunch. My stomach was growling and the only KFC in Nanaimo is way up North with a Taco Bell attached. I hadn’t had original recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken in 10 years! In France and in Hungary the recipe is different and both don’t have gravy. To me gravy is what makes KFC KFC! Smothering things in brown sauce must be an American thing, but it is something I love; could drink it. Also in Hungary they only have chicken strips, hot wings and legs, and both are spicy and overly salty. Although once in a while I did find myself eating hot wings it was never quite like I remembered. When I was a kid I worked at KFC on King George Highway and 104th Ave in Whalley. I worked there nearly 5 years and being a poor kid growing up, we lived on left over KFC. The manager back then took pity on me and my friends, and sent me home with buckets of chicken. I fed the whole neighbourhood Alfonz included. But I was very much addicted to it too and whenever I feel out of sorts, by eating it, it brings a little nostalgia and comfort just like it did back in the day. SO I made my way up towards the North, about 15 minutes away, in my new shiny car with the moonroof wide open and the sun shone down on me.
At first my GPS took me through the mall parking lot and I ended up on the road side of the road. I kept thinking this is my only chance, everyone else refuses to eat here with me, especially Angelina who is uber healthy. Alfonz is always trying to be good, and when breaking his diet KFC wouldn’t be his first choice. It would probably be a giant beefy burger or a Kebab. But for me it is greasy chicken, gravy soaked French fries and cold sweet coleslaw. My gluttony choice which brings a feeling of bliss. When I got there, I was so happy there was parking and two men looked like they were on a break standing outside. One man said, ‘Sorry but our terminals are down, so we are closed.’ Is this is sign not to be eating fast food?
‘What?! You have no idea how long I have waited for this…ten years really!’ I told him the story about my husband being out of town otherwise he wouldn’t come to join in my feast. I told him it really is about the gravy. If there is anyway he could help a girl out. Cash? Then he told me about online ordering and picking it up at the window. That goes through the KFC phone application. So he helped me sign-up and order when I realized, I need a credit card and my debit won’t work because it is temporary! Is this yet another sign? “Oh no, I just got here on Saturday and the bank system is not in place for another two weeks…” He said, “I am sorry but there is nothing I can do.” I was so sad. ‘So you really can’t help a girl out?’ I started walking towards my car, a little comforting that my car was so cute. He said wait a minute. How does 4 pieces and a gravy sound? He ran in and gave me a bag of food and said here you go. Have a great day! I was so happy. ‘You have most certainly made a customer for life! Thanks so much!’ Not only did I get exactly what I was craving but this kind stranger just gave it to me. Was it out of pity? Was it my persistence? Nope, I think Canadians are just super good people, doing good deeds wherever they can to help out their fellow man. I think he could see just how serious my food hankering was. Maybe I was on the verge of a food meltdown? Not sure. He was so kind and his friend said to me, ‘He really is a great guy!’ I had the biggest grin on my face. Free KFC is the only thing better than KFC!
On my drive home that familiar smell of Kentucky Fried chicken filled my car. Once home I sat with Angelina and ate my chicken meal with such happiness as she ate leftover chili next to me. I ate it all, all the fries covered in gravy and even have leftover gravy to make poutine for Daniel when he comes home tonight. After my KFC feast I asked Angelina, ‘Am I disgusting for eating it up so fast?’ She said, ‘Just a little but that’s ok, you looked very happy!’ I probably didn’t even look at her once during lunch, completely engrossed in my sensory experience. And you know what, she was right. I was happy on many different levels! I felt like I was home.