I've just finished a fresh crayfish salad for dinner. It reminded me of times past in the same way that music signposts times in your life.
When I first heard Daydream by The Lovin' Spoonful (1966), for example, I was sitting on our back porch in Timaru shelling just-gathered peas from the back garden. The sun was warming my legs and John Sebastian was warming my soul.
Hearing or singing that song still takes me back to the pods and the colander (though I don't know why we shelled peas into a colander).
My crayfish dinner took me back to my Canterbury University days. In those days, I rode a motorcycle and, from time to time, I would ride from Christchurch to Picton to catch the ferry across to the North Island where I had heard bigger and better things were happening.
Before setting off, I would buy one of those tall thin jars of Heinz mayonnaise and it would be hidden in the darkness of a pannier bag until – you guessed it – Kaikoura, where I would buy a cray from a roadside stall and sit beside the rocky shore eating my crustacean with nothing more than mayonnaise blobbed from the bottle.
I hope you're already picturing me in my body-hugging leathers, helmet removed so the sea breeze can play with my long, curling locks, mayonnaise jar beside me at a rakish angle, with the rugged rocky coast and swirling kelp providing a dramatic background.
Well, chances are you are picturing me wrongly. The bits about the locks and the rocks are correct but there were no body-hugging leathers - too expensive for a student- but a hi-vis yellow plastic top and (matching) yellow plastic leggings of the type worn by road workers on inclement days.
There might even have been lengths of binder twine tied around the ankles of the leggings to stop the unfavourable winds from zooming up my leggings to loftier regions.
Those are the times that eating crayfish will always evoke and, so far, no swanky restaurant has ever managed to outdo them.
Fish and chips, from newspaper, can have a similar effect but only really in places where the fishing boats tie up to a jetty outside. There are extra points to be gained for seeing the fish arrive.
A couple of decades ago, on a family holiday, we failed to strike it lucky in this regard. We were at a harbourside restaurant in Gisborne and, just as the waiter was taking our order, I spied fresh fish being unloaded from a fishing boat just outside the window.
"I'll have anything from that load being wheeled up the gangplank outside," I said.
"Sorry, you can't have that. It has to go to Auckland to be processed before it can come back here."
Once on the Algarve coast of Portugal I went out with some local fishermen and we departed at 4am. Fishing was by baited hooks on miles and miles of line.
The fishermen honoured their Kiwi guest in the evening by preparing some of the catch. It was cooked in seawater and seaweed gathered in a bucket from the sea beside the jetty. And they didn't even have to send it to Lisbon first to be "processed" or "approved"!
I can also recall hostel food from my university days but fortunately we don't eat any of those dishes these days so my memory is not too often jogged. Pudding might have involved junket, the real purpose of which has yet to be determined!
Anyway, you see what I mean. To this day the cray is the way to stay with all the good days.
"What a day for a craydream!"