The sweetness of the strawberry, you forget it again

Sometimes we just say something. “The fried shrimp we got from that Italian two years ago, they were the best ever.” Or: “Remember that beetroot with raspberries?” And we make a delighted face and agree: “Well! Delicious!” It’s not like someone is lying, certainly not. Because those shrimps were very tasty, you know that very well, and those beets with raspberries also turned out to be a golden combination, particularly worth repeating. But the strange thing is that you can’t really remember what those shrimp or those beetroots tasted like.

Well, of course it does, you think of the smell and look of fried shrimp and fried garlic – a smell that always has something deliciously holiday-like and takes you straight to southern countries with messy tents and chairs in the sand and dishes which excel in simplicity and taste and sunlight and saltiness and happiness, because there it was then ‘now’ and ‘here’.

But what do you know about the taste itself?

It remains a mystery how much taste memory a person actually has. Say ‘beetroot’ and I think ‘earthy and sweet’ and I see the beetroot and I can clearly feel inside where it’s going with that flavor – but that’s not because I can remember the exact flavor.

It only exists ‘now’ and ‘here’.

Pain is not to be remembered, but neither is the wind on your skin, the kiss on your lips, the sweetness of the strawberry

When it comes to pain, everyone agrees: you don’t remember pain. We talk about it in degrees of severity, intolerance, but what about pain: once it’s there you’re its prisoner and once it’s gone you’re free again. You can be afraid of pain, you can remember the fear, your heart starts beating faster when the dentist turns on the drill, you tense your muscles a little because you know what is coming. And yet the pain isn’t there until it’s there.

Just like the taste. I think: just like any sensory sensation. The senses have no memory. Pain is not to be remembered, but neither is the feeling of the wind on your skin, the kiss on your lips, the sweetness of the strawberry.

Of course we do have something called imagination. For example, someone who is working through a text over the modalities of the verb may repeatedly and accurately envision and even smell a baked cheese sandwich, the melted cheese that bleeds out, to which you put a spoonful of sambal, or sambal mixed with tomato ketchup (really delicious with a sandwich). Her mouth is watering, it’s like that cheese sandwich is materializing, she smells it! She tastes him!

Except that it isn’t and that the first bite immediately brings the realization: this is tastier than I could have imagined.

Memory as well as imagination never bring to mind the sensation itself, only aspects of it, words, images and fragments. For a moment you suspect something of the sweet and sour of those beets, the warm curry flavor of the cauliflower dish, you can taste it, as it were. It’s in those last words. As it were. That’s enough to make me think: I’m excited about that, really excited even. The more experienced chefs also have this with unfamiliar dishes, the creatives even come up with flavors that will go well together. But they only taste when they taste.

The experience itself can only be repeated and it is then always new. So it is always nice to take the first sip of white wine, to taste a piece of real sun-ripened tomato or a chunk of old cheese.

Food is life. Always new.