Charlotte took one last deep breath in, as they walked away from the farmer’s market and towards whatever new and exciting activity Barley had undoubtedly planned for them. She inhaled as if to try to conserve the scents and memories of the place in her brain; as if to try to have the aroma of freshly baked bread and cinnamon rolls and the taste of her newly discovered Eggs Benedict become one with her body. She wanted to keep them all with her and yet, the moment they had left the tent structure, all the heavenly fragrances were swept away by a fresh sea breeze. And just like that the ocean had left no more than a faint idea of the delicious food she had smelled so strongly only a couple of moments before; had stolen away the scents she had tried to hold on to. Frustrated, Charlotte looked back one last time, contemplating everything she had seen and eaten this morning, trying her hardest to commit everything to memory in that way.
And though the sea had robbed her of all these scents and flavours so many years ago, Egg felt as if her Viennese hotel room had adapted a certain new quality, while she had been sitting there, thinking of faraway lands. She could almost feel South Africa in the darkness, tasted its distinct and yet so multifaceted flavours on the air and saw its magnificent landscape in front of her eyes. In many ways, this trip had been one of the most influential and important ones in her life, as even if there had never been a shortage of new places to discover in all her lifetime, Charlotte felt that the things she had seen and done during this particular vacation had set her up for the life she was living now. Slowly she got up from her position by the window, temporarily turning her back to the glittering lights and the darkness behind the glass. Suddenly restless, she started rummaging through her suitcase, searching for and finally finding a little box she religiously took with her wherever she went: tea. It had been one of her father’s favourite tricks, and as she had shared his love for the beverage from a very early age onwards, she had soon adapted the practice of having some of her most calming and tasteful bags or leaves with her at all times. For Oliver Eggleton, a man born and raised within the nation of Earl Grey and afternoon teas it had usually been a classic English variety, but Charlotte had always preferred the softer taste of Rooibos. So, as the water steamed from her cup and the scent of South Africa truly filled the room, Charlotte closed her eyes again and travelled back in time.
Interestingly enough, the farmer’s market ended up being one of the most memorable experiences throughout the Eggleton’s entire family vacation – at least for Charlotte herself. Of course, there had also been the days spent higher up north in the national park, living in little lodges and driving out to see wild animals and breathtaking landscapes. Of course, there had been visits to the beach in Cape Town, feet buried deep in the sand and eyes wide open lest a penguin or a seal would pop up somewhere close to them. And of course, there had also been hours upon hours of walking and talking and looking around with Barley, who had turned out to be the single most amazing tour guide anyone could have ever wished for. Within the few weeks the family spent in the country, he managed to show them an enormous variety of places and restaurants, sights and natural wonders. And not just in Cape Town, either. Barley seemed to have been ready to drive them wherever they wanted to go, had even jumped on an airplane with them on two occasions and still he had managed to know people even in the furthest of places. Overall, there should have not been a shortage of amazing and life-changing experiences, and yet the farmer’s market they had visited on their very first full day, had stayed among the most prominent ones for years to come. Charlotte had sometimes wondered as to why this might be, but the only answer she could ever think of was this: Though she had never been a stranger to markets – having basically grown up in different ones around Europe – she had felt different at Oranjezicht City Farm Market. It had never been anything she could have described with words, but it had simply been unlike anything she had previously experienced: the energy had been so relaxed and friendly and Charlotte remembered how she had instantly felt at home and had shed her shy natura much quicker than it would have otherwise been the case. She also remembered how perfect the location had been: beautifully decorated and right next to the raging sea. And then – of course – the egg dish she had had the pleasure of trying there for the first time and which had since become one of her absolute favourites. Everybody who knew her could attest to that. And yet, she still couldn’t get over that first time she had tasted them; couldn’t wrap her head around how the perfect acidity had been hidden away in the sauce, which had otherwise looked and tasted so creamy and buttery; couldn’t understand how the egg had gotten so wonderfully soft, while still holding a certain structure. All in all, the dish had been a mystery to Charlotte and so she had sat on the beach this very evening, burying her white sneakers into the soft sand and looking out towards the ocean, contemplating how all of it had worked. She had asked and interviewed her fathers, too, until Louis Eggleton – a professional chef in his own right, after all – had promised to share all his secrets with her the very next morning.