Is it a worrywart trait to seek pleasure on the highest plane? To always be wondering whether–no matter how good something is–it could be better? That’s how it is with me and eating.
It’s a similar quest with family time. When I hear about a family who acts out Shakespeare together or who is always texting photos, I wonder why my family isn’t doing that; competitive and envious I am, even though I’ll never understand Shakespeare, and I cherish every minute with my girls, time typically amid a flurry of knives, cutting boards, skillets and olive oil.
Back to my quest to elevate taste to the max. For a long time now, I’ve been in search of how to best savor food.
- Do I take a bite and slosh it into all the crevices in my mouth?
- Should I slosh savory and sweet differently?
- Ought I study a map of my taste buds, so I can be sure to hit the right ones with the right foods?
- Did you know we have taste buds in our stomachs; how does that work?
- Mindful eating? Benefits of 100 chews? What if the patience required is not in my Ashkenazi DNA?
- Eating with hands? Um, licking plates?
- Do I need to be sitting down, even though biting into a warm, pink, juicy, olive oil sautéed chicken liver, over the kitchen sink fills me with an elation that makes time stand still (I know what you’re thinking and, yes, it is orgasmic)?
- What about little bites or big bites?
I ponder the size-of-bite question regularly as I chomp on my daily ounce of a Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate bar (diet tip). A big mouthful is simply more satisfying than a dainty nibble. I stand practically frozen, chewing at my chocolate drawer, concentrating hard on the bittersweet flavor sensation under the sides of my tongue, while Casey at my feet concentrates, waiting for an errant crumb. (Chocolate is not the only food that can poison dogs).
It’s the very same delight for me with a mouthful of pomegranate seeds. I’m drawn to the idea of biting on one shiny red seed at a time and savoring that nano-burst of juice, yet I find it impossible not to fill my cheeks, till they bulge like a squirrel’s, with a whole fruits-worth of seeds.
If I remember, and can bear to put off masticating that shiny, red heavenly mouthful, I run my tongue over the cluster’s bumpy terrain. And, as above, all sexual inferences you draw acknowledged but not intended. That’s how it is with eating.
The other night I went to see Adam Gopnik talk about his new book, The Table Comes First: Family, Friends and the Meaning of Food.
When I asked about eating technique, he wasn’t able to tell me how to slosh, but my question led him to talk about experiments where wine connoisseurs were asked to taste fine wine with a cheap label.
Their reactions that it tasted just okay were corroborated by MRI’s that showed brain changes, compared to when the subjects saw the accurate wine label.
I don’t like milk chocolate; it’s a totally different food from dark chocolate, and I wonder what would happen taste-wise, if someone were to give me a chocolate bar, milk chocolate in color, though exactly the dark chocolate taste of the one I love eating every day.
As with the wine label switcheroo, would it taste like milk chocolate?
On my way to the book talk I’d been listening to NPR. John Sebrook was talking about his latest “New Yorker” article “Crunch” about a hybrid apple. In the article he says that the sound when you bite into the apple is like “hearing with your mouth or tasting music,” which enhances pleasure.
This leads me to ponder taste buds in my ears and wonder why my music preferences are so limited, which I’ve noted to elaborate on in a future post.
How I’d love to see your comments on how to savor food to the max!
LOTS ABOUT MARRIAGE, RELATIONSHIPS AND MORE IN MY NEW MEMOIR . . .
“Readers of all ages will relate to this deeply personal story, told with comical sensibility by a quirky, startlingly honest mother, daughter, ex-wife, and dog lover, who—à la Nora Ephron—will feel like a dear friend. Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others will stay with you long after you finish reading it.”
Some Life Goes Strong articles: