The elusive scent of past summers….

There’s a smell to the summer holidays of my youth that I can’t describe or define but which still haunts me. This friendly phantom will appear unannounced as a waft of a hardly remembered past that is filled with detail but is passing too fast for me to recognise anything but for the fact that it is the scent of something very good that can be temporarily revived but never relived. I had bought some apricots and whilst I was thinking about how on earth I could improve on them the scented memory was there and gone as quickly as it came. I put the apricots in a dish and sprinkled them with plenty of sugar and a tablespoon of water before baking them in a slow oven until they were soft. Whilst they were cooking and cooling I lined a tart tin with sweet, short pastry and blind baked it. The apricots were soft enough for the stones to pop out, and I filled the case with the scented fruit being careful not to put too much liquid in with them. Some polenta sprinkled on the bottom of the case absorbed any extra juice. Five or so minutes before the tart was cooked I beat an egg yolk with 75ml of creme fraiche and poured it over the tart. It hasn’t brought back the smell of holidays past but I’m very glad I made it.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in Apricot tart, Apricot tart, apricots, Art photography, baking, Childhood, Childhood memories, Cooking, desserts, Digital photography, Eggs, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Fruit, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, tart, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to The elusive scent of past summers….

  1. The youthful experience of first sights, first sounds, first tastes can, unfortunately, never be duplicated, but through our children, grandchildren and new friends, can be re-experienced if our minds remain open and viable. That is the beauty of the life we have been given.

    An apricot in the hand…..

  2. Leta Blake says:

    This was a wonderful post. Thank you.

  3. Mad Dog says:

    I love tarts like that and I’m not normally a pudding person.
    I had one of those smell memories this morning, while brushing my teeth and was taken back to Spain, 21 years ago. just for a few brief seconds.
    BTW, there was an excellent documentary on TV about London last night: London – The Modern Babylon:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/aug/02/london-the-modern-babylon-review
    There’s a trailer here:

    Perhaps the whole thing will end up on youtube 😉

  4. Graham says:

    Oh!, Roger, sometimes you just hit the nail on the head..Thanks

  5. ChgoJohn says:

    I must say, you have access to some of the best looking apricots that I’ve ever seen. And your tart looks perfect, Roger. Just perfect. Scent, for me, has always been more evocative than words, music, or sights – andI I just don’t mean holiday aromas. Mom’s hair spray, Dad’s shoes as I polished them, the tomato plants in Grandpa’s garden, and a few others. When I come upon any one of them, in a flash I’m suddenly 6 years old again. Nothing else in my life has that power.

  6. Whoa. That was incredibly sensual,Roger. I’d love to cook these and smell that smell: whenever I blind bake anything it rises up in the flan dish. Your tart looks just perfect.

  7. Eha says:

    Beautiful . . . less is more, as oft is said . . .

  8. Tandy says:

    One summer’s day we ate a tree of apricots, that is a memory I’ll never forget 🙂

  9. Gorgeous post. . .and I haven’t even had breakfast. Starving now.

  10. I think I read somewhere that, scientifically speaking, the sense of smell conjures up more memories than any other sense. Perhaps it’s survival for us to react strongly to the scent of food.. I could almost smell your apricots across the ocean and thousands of miles.. just from your description today.

  11. I have a similar feeling, with mangoes though. Smelling mangoes in July/August in the US, brings back memories of summer and Christmas in Australia. It’s just a general good memory that includes family, the smell of pine trees, and BBQs. I really miss home during summertime here 🙂 The apricots looks divine in the pastry pic. Have you ever make apricot jam? Nothing beats homemade apricot jam with chunks of apricots! I’m waxing nostalgic right now 🙂

  12. ambrosiana says:

    It is a shame that past scents cannot be reproduced like the one of this beautiful apricot. Its image -captured by your pic – is the only thing we can gaze and can helped us remember the summery aromas… at least!

  13. That cream! It looks silky and velvety…

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