i would like to say that there are food experiences i will never forget, but we know the brain does not work that way. or we, to say the least, do not work that way. memory of course is coloured and discoloured as it weathers with age, now losing lustre, now gaining wholly other hues than originally present, and is altogether a fickle and transient critter, serving ends woefully unknowable to the rest of us. we being the possessors (oh ho or awful results, moreso!) of such critters.
strange that i unthinkingly used only language of colour, there, despite talking about taste (although i was thinking about Nabokov not 20 min ago).
in all likelihood, just as i doubt my ability to recall exactly the details of a scene or piece of music or conversation from the past, i presume my remembered tastes to be mostly fabulation – for it is not as if i truly can conjure the taste again in my mouth, however much we like to think that that sort of thing is a common occurrence – but of course the cheese of the thing (memory) is not in total recall but in the veneer of the memory. why we remember it or want to remember it or in what aura we believe we do so.
for that matter, i am too much of a cynic to say “I Will Remember How This Tasted For The Rest Of My Life,” but trying to think on it, what i would say that about, were i seized by romanticist self-deception (it is fall after all), this is what i’ve come up with:
1. The Best Piece of Pizza I’ve Ever Had. was in Rome, just on the other side of some or other bridge, and it had just stopped raining and suddenly the whole rotten city was glowing like all the ancient stone was sloughing off the accumulated light and warmth of so many centuries and i was just fit to vomit in defiance of its insidious perfection. the pizza was out of a little shop that sold pizza and arancini but mostly oils and dried pasta and the like, and was thin, topped with buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, green tomatoes, and olive oil in sufficient quantity and quality as to be undeniably a topping.
i said to someone recently that i ate a piece of pizza in Rome that fundamentally altered my life, and i don’t think they believed me, but it didn’t seem worth pursuing at the time. i don’t think the goddamn thing was even cooked, the crust excepted, obviously.
2. The First Time I Tasted Sichuan Pepper. in Halifax, some return home ago, in a clean, fresh little restaurant called Hungry Chili, which the google maps street view reveals to me is still in existence, but from the outside at least, dirty as a dog’s hat. i have probably mentioned this experience in the past, but it was utterly eye-opening and that dish of raw ginger and sichuan pepper-heaped tofu singly inspired me to begin investigating sichuan cuisine as such, to take seriously the project of discerning regional identity in chinese cooking. i could make further the historically rigourless attendant claim that this experience, by way of exciting a historical and geographical interest in food, was the first step toward starting this blog.
it probably wasn’t, but i’d probably believe it if i said it. especially if i was like “Come on, probably.”
3. less the taste, and more the sensation – texture, temperature, and the holy crap nostalgic surround of Eating Chocolate Ice Cream With A Fork. specifically Olympia brand, and specifically a 2L tub, standing over the open deep freeze, because this is what my brother and i always did growing up. somehow i think he got it in his head that a fork was ideally suited to digging out bits of ice cream and then covering the evidence of having done so, in such a way that a spoon was not. admittedly, the spoon is with rare exceptions an obtuse and boorish utensil, and leaves such identifiably spoonlike traces in the ice cream that our parents would be sure to detect our illicit excess ice cream consumption. that they were not imbeciles and could clearly a) discern that there was, like, half a litre of ice cream missing, and b) make the connection between said missing ice cream and the FORK MARKS everywhere did not seem to deter us from this practice, which i of course adopted in tandem because he was my older brother and i did everything he did in order to become Cooler (wear a trench coat, listen to the cure, read comic books, nurture a thinly-veiled sense of superiority, look down one’s nose at those who dressed up as non-scary/evil things for hallowe’en, etc.).
this stark mental impression of the cold silkiness of the ice cream between the unyielding and still colder prongs of the fork, the sweetness contrasted against the horrible metallic bite of old silverware, is one for which i will be forever in my brother’s debt (that and the “barbarian handshake”). thanks bro.