Monday, July 14, 2008

Mmmmm... I Like Bad Coffee

I like the weak, mild, cheap coffee that the real coffee drinkers snub and scorn. I like Nescafe with cream and sugar. I like the stuff at the bagel shop across from Starbucks. Oh, and one more thing: It has to be decaffeinated. If it's leaded, it makes my heart race and I get anxious, nameless dread seeps into the recesses of my comfort zone. Yes, every few months I like to have a warm cup of lightly sweetened, slightly creamy, bad, unleaded coffee.

I like bad beer too. Don't waste fruity, dark ales and hopped-up lagers on me. Spare me the bold beers, the malt beers, the bitter beers, and hold off on the esters and wood aged brews. All of those beers, that the true fans of beer savor and extoll, leave me feeling just the way Bill the Cat looks... disarrayed, gagged and disheveled. The "good" stuff is wasted on my unrefined palate. On a hot day, in the company of friends, while grilling, or when enjoying salsa and chips, I'll take a cold can of Tecate, a chilled O'Douls, or a Mexican Coke, the Real Thing, for that matter.

In Fortuna, last month, when we were celebrating the Equinox at Eel River Brewing Company, I asked the waitress to please suggest a beer for someone who thought non-alcoholic beer was good enough. She looked at me and with confidence and the air of a doctor prescribing the right pill, she said, "Oh, you need a Clim@x."
Yes, well, who's going to argue with the doctor, or with a good waitress?
OKay. It was perfect. So, if a Clim@x could be considered a "good" beer, then count me in. I do like a good Clim@x.

Did you have to eat everything on your plate when you were a kid? I did not. My mom liked me try things, which was fine, but she never force fed me. She never made me stare at a plate of something that made me gag and tear just thinking of it on my tongue. I did have have the occasional run-ins with some know-it-all adults that insisted my "immature taste buds" would benefit from swallowing spoonfuls of overcooked green beans, and fatty hunks of undercooked beef. Like Scarlett O'Hara, only with less of an appetite, I made my own solemn vow. Defiantly, and with true conviction I raised my fist and pledged: "As God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over I'll never eat anything yucky again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to lie, cheat or spit into a napkin, as God is my witness I'll never eat yucky food again!"

I honor my pledge as best I can. I have sampled a great variety of foods, strange, good, bad, weird, tasty, memorable and forgettable. I appreciate vegan, raw, vegetarian and I like tofu, but it does not like me. I have had backyard chicken and wild turkey, and raw urchin that I plucked from the sea myself. And I always eat with gratitude, because food is a blessing, but I still adamantly insist that, given a choice, I will not eat yucky food and nor will any of my folk, which means I will not force my children to eat food they do not like. One taste is all I ask, and then another taste 6 months later. Tastes change, attitudes change, but I never believed those changes had anything to do with "maturity." Intuitively, I believed that adults had dead taste buds, and that it was children who knew bitter from sweet. In nature bitter = poison and is best avoided, so I presumed that children's taste was merely a biological imperative for survival. I also believe that garden fresh veggies, fruits and whole grains, lean proteins, beans and rice could make up a healthy diet that children will eat, and that eventually we can all find our way to balanced and varied diets...

But mostly I was really, really convinced that every overzealous adult that force fed me and smugly ridiculed me and my "lack of good taste" was wrong in their presumption that children are 'unsophisticated and need training.' I hated overcooked, limp, colorless veggies then, and I hate them now. Fatty, rare beef still gags me. I do not like lima beans or radishes. Too many onions is too many, thank you. My point is, I knew as a child what tasted bad to me and I know what I like now, as a mature, sophisticated adult. If I were force fed a plate full of mushrooms with bell peppers and liver, I would not like it any more than a healthy kid would. If I were really hungry, and I have been really hungry, I know that food becomes vital, and the want of food supersedes taste and emotion... otherwise, I will not eat, or ask anyone to eat, yucky food.

Do you know what is really fun? It is fun to discover that your intuitive convictions have scientific merit, in other words: I was like, totally right! Our children, clever, beautiful beings, have 10,000 alert, active taste buds. Adults have only 3,000 taste buds. We adults don't like things more or better than children because of maturity and enlightenment. We aren't detecting subtle flavors and appreciating sophisticated dishes... we are missing flavors. We are desensitized and tasteless. Adults are the ones who cannot appreciate that some things are bitter or over spiced, or simply too much. Adults who smoke have an even greater loss of taste. I have always wondered about Anthony Bourdain's sometimes questionable dining preferences... No matter. So long as we are eating to sustain ourselves, to celebrate and commune, then I will strive to serve healthful food, varied food, good food, and I will be respectful of your tastes and my own.

Geoff and I, with William, Alex, Max and Maria, went out to celebrate our anniversary at a favorite restaurant. We hadn't been there in 5 years. The green salad with goat cheese, strawberries and almonds was my favorite dish, but my favorite part of the evening was being with my husband and children, talking, laughing, sharing, walking, browsing... it was delicious!


Katie said...

I adore the closeness your family seems to have, and the fondness for one another.

d.a. said...

I'd heard vague mutterings about adults have fewer taste buds, glad to see a reference! I don't doubt it one bit.

YayaOrchid said...

You have such a beautiful family! I enjoyed reading your post. Happy Anniversary!

amy smith said...

and i love a good Sol. :)

nikkipolani said...

Happy anniversary, Natalie Family! You all look delicious! (p.s., I'm with you in the caffeine department)

Mama Spark said...

Happy anniversary, my friends! Our 25th is coming up in August. You all looked like you enjoyed yourselves!!

Em said...

I love this post. The pictures are great, it looks like you are a very happy family! And you all look so much alike - how did you manage that???