Texture vs Flavor

This cold sucks. Of all the con cruds I’ve contracted, this one has decided to make a home in my sinuses, get cozy and invite friends. And while my friends are getting better, my head gets heavier and heavier, my Kleenex supply goes lower and lower. But it’s not the sinus pressure or the fear of my eyeball popping out of my head because of it that hurts the most. It’s not even the fact that I think back and fondly remember what it was like to breathe. No. It’s the damn apple on the counter.

I’ve been on the soup and juice diet all week. Which is ok, since I can’t actually taste anything. I don’t know if my nose is broken forever or is my taste buds died on the airplane somewhere over Michigan, but I got nothing.  I’ve tried eating a few solid things this week, but it never ends well. This week I learned the difference between texture and flavor, or rather how texture can become bigger than life when flavor is gone.  Case and point, pizza. Everyone loves pizza, from the young to the old to the hung over. Piping hot, lukewarm or cold. Humans love their pepperoni pies. Some time Wednesday I thought I’d try a piece, hoping the spices would be enough to break through the dead zone of taste that my mouth has become. Pizza is gross when you can’t taste it. It’s a strange conglomeration of gooey and chewy with this insanely nasty granular topping. Without the flavor, it’s slugs and scabs with sand sprinkled on the top. Ugh.

And the pizza was just the beginning.  The kids have felt sorry for me in my sickly state, so they’ve tried, they have. Over the course of the last few days I’ve been offered [and accepted with a smile while attempting with a grimace] a variety of foods that do not work when you have no flavor to back it up.  For the record, corn dogs are quite possibly the worst thing—and don’t bother with the ketchup.  But the kicker? The kicker is that damn apple on my counter.

I live way up north in Wisconsin. We don’t have much for cows here, because it’s cold flipping frigid. But we do have orchards. And I wait all year long for the orchards across the bay to come to harvest. Have you ever had a Honey Crisp apple? A fresh one? From the grove? They are, hands down, the best thing on this planet. They are better than caramel. They make you forget the joy of a juicy, bloody, gloriously grilled ribeye. They are hard and snap when you bite into them. They are juicy, and bright white inside. The skin has an aroma that reminds you of childhood and the beautiful white guts are actually filled with millions of tiny flavor bursts that pop in your mouth and sing while they slide down your throat. I love these apples. I get these apples every year for about four weeks. And then it’s back to pretending that a Gala or Pink Lady could even hope to compete.

The apples have come to harvest. There is a full bag on the counter. I tried one Thursday. It was sad. I almost cried at the horror of it all. Sure it still snapped when I bit it. Sure it was still juicy enough to require a napkin. But there was no childhood smile of aroma. There was no burst of happiness in my mouth.  Of course, the texture was okay—thank god—so I wasn’t completely disgusted, but still…

I haven’t gone back. I can’t force myself to try that again. It was disappointing enough the first time. So there they sit. All texture, no flavor, and I wait for my taste buds to come back and recognize coffee so I can run to the kitchen and grab an apple, or three.  Meanwhile, I blow my nose and push on my forehead to keep my eyebrows from exploding, and hope everyone else out there eats a Honey Crisp because they’re in season and wonderful and you’ll never go back to the inappropriately named Red Delicious.

In a way, I’d like everyone to eat one and then tell me how good it is. But that’s cruel. I know what I’m missing. It’s taunting me from the counter. It’s teasing me with its flavor, while it only offers texture. Damn I hope this cold leaves before the season is over…

0 Responses to Texture vs Flavor

  • Bob Ford says:

    Texture vs Flavor… hmmm (and you know what that “hmmm” preludes). So very true. A $110 filet mignon with the best presentation, served by a tuxedo’d waiter or a $5 hamburger handed over with a person with a funny paper hat… they both don’t amount to much if there’s no taste.

    Texture… texture is surface. It might look phenomenal. It may feel like silk on your tongue. But it’s still all surface and once you get past that, you’ve nothing left to experience.

    The good thing is that over time, your taste buds will come back. And that experience, that sensation of discovering how incredible the taste was – that you may have feared would never return – will be new again.

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