Tuesday, January 22, 2013

cedars and citrus

so long as breath controls my body



I think I'm learning how to use my senses properly for the first time. 
My tongue has discovered a whole new way to taste.

I walked into a little tea emporium, and I was handed a cup of high mountain oolong, with the words: good choice. This is a very fine tea: very smooth. Exquisite flavors.
That was a lot of pressure for a little Minnesota girl who's more used to Caribou Coffee than fine oriental teas.
For a tongue that's used to the overwhelming, nutty richness of a cup of java, or spicy Thai soup, or tangy Indian curry, the subtleties of tea are intimidating.
Tea is something that cannot be drunken in a rush.
You have to sip.
And breathe.
And sip some more.
You have to let the smoothness of the liquid float over your tongue and fill your mouth with its smooth fragrance.

You begin to notice all the slight variations in flavor and spice that would have been lost before. 
Each breath becomes a part of the tasting experience.
Each time I walk down a busy street, filled with the aromas of fresh food seeping out of shop doors or food market stalls, I breath all the smells in so deeply. I savor the scents, let them fill my nose and mouth. 
I could live off the smells of this city.

~

I stopped by a food market near my home.
A kind Italian couple was selling homemade pesto.
Per direction, I tried various different kinds.
As I spread the small amounts of pesto on small bits of fresh bread, I rolled the spicy spreads around in my mouth.
I felt the difference not only in taste, but in texture.
I felt the roughness of the spice and the smoothness of the sweet.
Fragrant and pungent, each bit was a little burst of joy in a hungry mouth.

Another kind Italian gentleman explained to us last night a recipe for zucchini pasta. Although the recipe was very simple, all the women in the group almost literally swooned.
We described the recipe to a friend as we were walking home.
He was unimpressed by the simplicity of the recipe.
So...you swooned over slowly sautéing zucchini?
After protestations of No, NO, you don't understand,
we all nodded in assent.
Sometimes, the simplest pleasures are the ones that smite your heart so sweetly.


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