We Fear Change
I thought I could do flavour opposites - my favourite popcorn is sweet mixed with salt, I love sausages pancakes and maple syrup, I really get off on bacon with mash and sweet custard. The last week contradicted my assumption that I'm able to be adventurous with food. It proved that thirty something hardening of the taste arteries has already begun. You know, the process that has you unable to vary your tastes in food, music or pop culture by age thirty seven, and makes the onset of Meldrewism a mere matter of time.
First off, Dee brought some sweets to Belfast from her last jaunt to Japan. Dee tests X Box games for a living (too late, geekboys, she has a bloke) and goes to Japan to try out unreleased new games a lot. She brought some salted plums to Belfast.
Her rare, favourite, delicacy.
Dee was generous enough to offer us one each, despite them being her favourite foodstuffs, and only available at great effort and expense in the land of the rising sun. The pressure was high to respond ... if not well, then politely. Gratefully, anyway. They were like miniature purple nectarines - furry, a little larger than a fat man's thumb, and smelt faintly like urine.
Mistake number one was saying that out loud. A tentative lick of the bruised looking fur revealed a strangely yellowed salty taste - much like when you lick the shell of a pistachio. Mistake number two: "ugh, it stinks of piss."
Apparently, they taste better than they smell, so I reminded myself that this was a gift, a treasured sacrifice, and bit into the thing. Mistake three.
An acrid flood of pickled egg pungency had me running to a sink to spit the thing noisily and publicly. If you met me in person, I'm dead polite, you know. Manners are important to me. I'm ashamed to say (four) that I made gagging noises while Dee watched me spit her precious fruit prize into spit covered pieces into the bin. In fact I only stopped going on about it hysterically when Yidaho came in, so that I could smile, smack my lips, tell her they were just peachy delicious, why didn't she try a whole one?
But it could well have been an aberration (sorry, Dee), a one-off taste explosion nasty.
Rather than a paralysis of my ability to experience the new. However, last night's menu sampling at 'Garlic n Shots' set the seal upon my atrophied sense of experimentation. Set the seal, padlocked it, threw away the map. But good.
I began with a garlic beer - light Scandinavian lager, with chopped, raw garlic floating at the head. (One glass. Don't like so much the process of having to chew my beer.)
Next, rubbery game in a garlic goulash, with aioli, accompanied by mashed raw garlic mixed with a little potato. J@B had kalamari stuffed with chopped garlic. By this time, I was swimming with nausea, and had to check there was no garlic in the damn ginger ale as I dropped bunch after bunch of garlic, desperately.
Once the queasiness was quelled by parsley munching, I ordered the dessert - opting for garlic chocolate truffle with a garlic and raspberry coulis, while J@B had a skewer of whole roast garlic cloves dipped in chocolate sauce laid across garlic honey ice cream.
It was putrid. The flavours didn't so much blend as wash over you in separate consecutive waves. For bravery's sake I managed two teaspoons, then had to make a dash for the Haagen-Dazs shop and espresso with six sugars.
When did I lose my ability to appreciate the new? Although I do value the ability to wield the mighty power of the truly atomic garlic burp - certainly proving useful in securing seats on the train journey home - it's a sobering, frightening prospect. Nothing new. Ever again. Ulp.
Yeah, yeah, okay, so the irony's not lost that most people wouldn't dare feast on a garlic layered smorgasbord the evening before Valentine's Day, but I did get a Valentine, thankyouverymuch. From my mobile phone company. Innit.