Somatic Memory (Body Memories)
I have often been asked to explain something about body memories (or somatic memory). The word “somatic” refers to the soma, the body. Somatic memories (body memories) are common in those who have experienced trauma. Science has demonstrated for us that trauma and abuse have a long-term physiological impact on our bodies as well as our minds.
“Because the part of the brain in charge of survival basically takes a ‘memory snapshot’ of elements considered part of the danger of the [event], associations to the original event fuel fears, hyper-reactivity or disconnection” (Heller & Heller, 2001).
Although scientists have associated somatic memories mainly to trauma and abuse, I would like to suggest that somatic memories also works for happy occasions, when the body remembers happy memories.
“I wish I could get some Pierre Marcolini chocolates here. Do you think they’ll open a franchise here?” he said as he nibbled on some Leonidas which I bought in Bahrain a few weeks back.
It was a cold March Saturday morning and we walked on the cobbled pavement uphill. We were in search of breakfast, a café perhaps for croissant and coffee. We found a cozy little place where the patrons looked right out of a postcard picture. A middle age gentleman, with moustache and dark rimmed glasses sipping his coffee as he was reading the Belgian newspaper.
Across him, a couple, a woman with a pretty blue scarf round her neck smiling as she daintily bit on her croissant with her male companion.
We walked into the darkened café and found a seat at the back. Does the waiter speak English? Not too much. But he understood that we wanted two coffees and 2 pain au chocola. They were playing some Belgian (or French I won’t know the difference) music in the background.
A breakfast tavern in the day and a pub at night. Cafes are very much a European lifestyle.
After paying for our breakfast, we strolled along the cobbled pavement of Place du Grand Sablon. It was early yet and we didn’t really know where to go. We just enjoyed the damp and grey March morning.
I came across this shop that displayed some boring looking, square shaped chocolates and lovely looking cakes in the window. Pierre Marcolini. Never heard of them. Godiva was just round the corner, should we be getting those instead?
He always preferred the road less travelled. He knew that I was concerned that we may not afford the little luxuries. He knew that I wanted to go in, but I was somewhat afraid.
Lets go in there, he said as he pushed the door. The shop was somewhat chilly but a hint of bitter chocolate floated in the air. I saw rows and rows of little chocolate goodies. I was enthralled. Like a child who has just entered a sweet shop.
I don’t know what to order. I don’t know how to order.
He asked for the price list and I savoured each display panel. So many of them!
What shall we have? The dark ones of course!
“Please could we have 250 g of all your dark chocolates, two of each piece,” and just a few more pieces in a plastic bag for us to try.
I was too shy to ask for a sample.
Like two children, we could not wait to sample our purchases. I was adamant that we should only open the box when we get home. I wanted to saviour every moment. The unopened box to me represented a promise, a promise unused and unopened, that sat just there waiting for me. And I would smell its bittersweet aroma everytime I opened my closet. (I keep my chocolates in my closet don't ask me why but it does leave a lingering chocolaty smell in my closet.)
He on the other hand, wanted some right away. He popped one into his mouth and smiled.
“These are no good, don’t think you’ll want any of them,” he said unconvincingly.
I gingerly grabbed a piece from the plastic packet and popped it into my mouth. It was sublime. It wasn’t too sweet like English chocolate (The EU wanted to label English chocolates as candy rather than chocolate.) It wasn’t too bitter that it overpowers the taste bud. There is a lovely balance between the bitterness of the dark chocolate and the richness of the flavour.
Even though we sampled other chocolates in our trip and the subsequent trips, Pierre Marcolini has remained our favourite.
Mr Pierre Marcolini, if you ever read this, please, could you open a shop in the Middle East? We are so in need of good, real chocolates.
Its exactly two years, 4 days since we first tried Mr Marcolini’s chocolates. The body remembers and asked for more.
Honey, thank you for the lovely memories.