When I was a kid, I used to love reading "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This short story depicts the passage of a particular day for a prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov in the Soviet labor camp in the Stalinist era. I liked the story so much that I read it again and again and yet again. Needless to say, I read the Japanese translation (by Hiroshi Kimura) at that time.
Towards the end of this novel, the protagonist is lucky enough to get hold of a piece of sausage from his fellow prisoner, Tsezar Markovich. Tsezar is rich, and from time to time receives a box of goodies sent from his family. Ivan Denisovich is poor, but he has his wits and enterprising spirits which occasionally earn him the bonuses.
Now, at the end of yet another long and laborious day, Ivan Denisovich is able to taste the delicious food that has become his.
"He himself took the lump of sausage — and popped it into his mouth. Get the teeth to it. Chew, chew, chew! Lovely meaty smell! Meat juice, the real thing. Down it went, into his belly."
(from the translation by H.T. Willets)
I was fascinated by this description of the joy to be discovered in the simple act of eating a piece sausage. Then I had to put imagination into practice.
In those days, they sold a small piece of "salami" sausage in the stores. When I got the feeling, I would buy a piece of salami,
and gingerly come back home. Imagining that I was Ivan Denisovich himself on the prisoner's bed, I would chew the sausage slowly, and then finally swallow it.
"Meat juice, the real thing".
I remember I repeated this ceremony many, many times.
Those childhood follies taught me, in essence, that there is glory and joy even in the darkest moments of deprivation.