I clearly remember the first time I saw a cockroach outside of a zoo. I was about to take the subway in New York when my mom stopped by a payphone – yes, a payphone – to make a call. A cockroach happened to pick that exact moment to also try and place a call. We got better acquainted during my time in Philadelphia*, and again in Nepal, but that first encounter in New York City will always hold a special place in my heart.
*Raquel é minha heroína [thanks, Louisee]
So I can’t say I was particularly surprised to come across the following excerpt in Wolves and Honey: A Hidden History of the Natural World, a book about the ecology of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York (through which I drove two weeks ago on my way to Toronto and Niagara):
I never knew that [taste research] was what Terry actually did for a living. Although I remember when he left the sense of taste for the sense of smell around the time I moved to New York to go to school. Taste told you only one thing, he said, but smell told you everything. He would say things like, “You know that characteristic smell of a New York apartment? I figured it out in the lab today: cockroaches. You see one, there are a million in the wall.”
You all can thank me later.