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Comfort food, comfort books

April 18, 2009

So DH and I went to Chef’s Table tonight (gift certificate. Woohoo!), and while the food was indeed very good, I have been confronted with an uncomfortable truth: I’m just not refined enough to appreciate cuisine. Yeah, the food was good. Very good. We had mushrooms and polenta for an appetizer (yes, all out–gift certificate, remember?) and he had steak, I had salmon for dinner. Then we shared a (small. too small.) dessert.

And it was all very good. But I just don’t know enough about food to be able to fully appreciate what I was tasting. Honestly, it could have been… I don’t know. Chili’s? Applebee’s? People who know food would roll their eyes at such heresy. But, while I like to eat, and I enjoy a good meal, I can’t distinguish flavor overtones. I always mock wine reviews for that reason. “Blackberry and oak, with a hint of melon,” that sort of thing. Intimidating, distant, and–for a Mormon–unreachable. I left feeling like I did not understand enough about my dinner to praise it as the price indicated it should deserve.

I think to educate my palette would require more calories and more cash than I’m currently able to devote. But it’s made me think about books. I am like that with books as well. I remember my Comp Lit class in postmodern literature. I was just beginning to wrap my brain around the theories and philosophy behind what we were reading when the semester ended, which was kind of a relief. And even now, in my spare reading time, I don’t like to have to think too hard. This is bad. I feel slightly guilty for it. I ought to be reading all those Great Works books on the Honors list that I never finished. I ought to be reading all the books I should have read. I’m not, though. Instead I read comfortable books.

But I do analyze them to death. I can’t read even a simple kid’s book without picking it apart to figure out how it works, dissecting everything from the language to the characters to the story structure. I’ve kept some of the analytical stuff from my college days with me. And when I take the time for it, I do enjoy reading things that require more effort on my part.

But right now, both my literary and my culinary palate are stuck in Applebee’s mode.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2009 11:31 pm

    Can I just say that I completely agree with you about both things? I love to cook and I love to read food blogs, but the truth is that there is a lot of gourmet food that I really don’t like. I can’t stand sushi. I feel lame admitting that in certain circles, but I just don’t think I’ll ever be very hip.

    And I feel lame in grad school because I like to read a lot of things and think most books are just fine. I have way too many professors that talk about ‘the right kinds of books’ that are ‘acceptable’ in academia, and then I go home and curl up with whatever I feel like reading. I do sometimes feel guilt that I don’t just pick up the Great Works for fun, or that I’d rather watch Law and Order than listen to classical music, but I guess I’m OK anyways.

  2. April 20, 2009 4:12 am

    I love this, Emily. I also “can’t distinguish flavor overtones”–such a perfect descriptor (though I do love sushi, FoxyJ–with lots of wasabi). I used to dream of being a fantastic cook. I don’t have the gift, and I’ve had enough years of practice to say that without being too hard on myself. I do LOVE good tasting food, but the skillets at Village Inn fall into that category for me. I was talking with my brother recently about how I’m not good at cooking meat and he started throwing instructions at me–it felt like a foreign language. Ah me.

    I hadn’t thought to compare to books, but the shoe fits. I’m picky about some content issues, but not about quality–I wouldn’t know how to begin to analyze a book for its quality. If it feels good, I like it. Many books I love are met with indifference (or worse) by the gourmet readers I know. Hm.

    Quoting FoxyJ, “I guess I’m OK anyways,” too! šŸ™‚

  3. Emily permalink*
    April 20, 2009 3:22 pm

    Ah, I’m not alone! That is good to know. I love a good Village Inn skillet, too. And I have never dared try sushi.

    Music is another one of those, FoxyJ. I feel like I ought to appreciate classical music much more than I really do.

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