Saturday, April 7, 2007

Fruits of the forest

This post is dedicated to my good friends Paddy B and Peter C, both of whom I have mocked mercilessly over the years for being what I derisively referred to as "food snobs". A staple answer has always been that, having been raised in Ireland, a country where iceberg lettuce reigns supreme, I was simply unqualified to issue judgements of any kind where food was concerned.

After last Wednesday evening's transforming experience, I have to concede that there might be just a smidgen of validity to their defence. There I was, having committed myself to two scoops in the ice-cream store, trying to decide what would go well with strawberry sorbet - perhaps another sorbet that would somehow complement the flavor? I point at something that looks purple and luscious. La chica behind the counter says the name, which escapes me completely - I think it might be pomegranate. I nod in agreement.

Fifteen seconds later, on the street outside, the taste of the purple frozen elixir hits my tastebuds. And at that moment, 10:54 pm Seville time, I discover something life-changing -- food can taste this good! Perhaps it's just as well that there is no pictorial record of my bliss, because self-control was not any part of it. I'm trying to stop myself from moaning aloud, but it's just not possible. This nectar is so intoxicating that I'm emitting little involuntary squeals of pleasure. People are giving me puzzled looks. Fortunately, this being Seville, I get the benefit of the doubt, so they are puzzled, but indulgent looks.

Finally, one (apparently Swedish) tourist can no longer contain her curiosity. In a complete "When Harry Met Sally" moment, she approaches me, and asks - "Excuse me, can you tell me what you were eating that tastes so good?". I come out of my fugue state enough to stammer that I don't know what it was called, but I can show her where I got it. At this, she becomes embarrassed and starts to back away. Thinking I was setting her on the right track, I call after her - ¿pomegranate, maybe?

Turns out that was a misdirection. Not that I really care. After the briefest of struggles with my own vanity, I figured - damn, yes - I can have another scoop. Who cares what la chica behind the counter thinks, I'm not going to have to see her again after this week. I reapproach the counter, order another scoop, and make permanent note of the flavor. Frutas del bosque, or fruits of the forest.

Yes: the second scoop was just as good as the first. And it's really nobody's business how many times I've been back since. But, Paddy and Peter, consider this post my public apology for years of mockery. In one transcendental moment here in Seville, I suddenly understood why it might not just be OK to make a fuss about food, why it might even be necessary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peter, let us praise Gaelstat for his confessing that he now "gets it" about food. Living in San Francisco will no longer be a culinary waste. I've long complained about pearls before swine, etc. What next, cooking classes?? Keep it up, senyor, expand your foodways! Embrace flavor.