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August Break 8 – Taste

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Okay, so it’s like this.  Today’s prompt was “my favorite taste,” and there is simply no way in hell I’m going to be able to narrow that kind of thing down.  I am very food-oriented – thanks to being blessed with a mother who was a fantastic cook, an unfussy palate as a child, a comfort with cooking for myself (don’t discount that, folks) a lack of any serious food allergies, and – in my teens and 20’s – the metabolism of a lab rat on meth.  I spent my formative years learning to taste everything, liking what I tasted, and being able to eat seconds or thirds of whatever I liked without any impact on my health or waistline.

And not just sweets either – my mother was cooking things in the 70s the way that food experts recommended everyone cook today, with vegetables crisp-tender, fresh and simple; low salt, easy on the sauces, easy on the red meat, dishes sauteed or grilled instead of deep-fried.  This let me discover, as a child, that vegetables have a natural sweetness to them that gets cooked out if you cook them too long.  I would shun salad dressing as a child – I often still do – and everyone thought that was just a weird affectation. But I just didn’t want the natural taste of the vegetables to be covered up by what was often overly-seasoned gludge.

My metabolism caught up with me in my 30s, but I still have a broad palate – I’ve just had to expand it to a little more vegetables than I used to.  And cooking myself is also something I do often, even when it’s just me and I end up with a lot of leftovers.  In fact, that’s usually what makes my lunches for work is some kind of random tail-end of a stew paired with a leftover splash of a soup, or some leftover salad paired with a little cup of a leftover chilled soup and a roll.  The cookbook I recommend to people most often uses that very formula – soup paired with salad – as its entire theme.  If I want something more substantial for dinner, I usually do something simple like roast a single chicken leg.

Today’s lunch actually features a bit of leftover takeout pad thai that I got this weekend; I’d had some kind of weird bug on Saturday and ordered it to spare myself cooking, but then when it got here I couldn’t even eat it.  So I saved it for future lunches, making up a couple salads to go with it and stretch it a bit – a zucchini and carrot salad with a subtly spicy dressing, and a simple pickle of thinly-sliced cucumbers in vinegar and sugar and that’s it.  My CSA basket this week included some tiny apples that fit perfectly in my lunchbox, so that made for a dessert.

Everyone at work comments on that lunchbox, by the way; it’s a bento-style thing I picked up to simplify lunch packing.  I read somewhere that bento menus try to include equal amounts of protein, carbs, and vegetables or fruits; with little compartments for everything like this, it’s a lot easier to pack lunch in the morning (“leftover chicken wings in cup 1….roll in cup 2….check”).  I also deliberately picked something in that red and black color because at the time I thought it looked like Japanese laquerware. (Well, it sort of does.  The color anyway.  Stop laughing.)

That teapot lives at work.  I don’t use it every day – only on days when I need something a bit beyond the offerings of the Keurig-clone behemoth in the office pantry, a thing that always reminds me of the “Nutrimatic Drinks Dispenser” from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers’ Guide To The Galaxy.  The Nutrimatic is a beverage dispenser on board a spaceship, of which Adams wrote that it put forth a drink that was “almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.”

But that’s getting into my least favorite taste.

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