Sunday, July 19, 2009

Relate to Horseradish

How do we learn what is appropriate for ourselves and those we share our lives with? It seems obvious how much horseradish is too much, when eyes water and the nose hurts, but how much horseradish is just enough or too little, how much will enhance and delight the right way when feeding yourself or someone else? At what point do we start to know the flavor enough to recognize its complement, and not be overwhelmed by it? Everyone’s taste is different and every mouth understands a different bite. If you overdo it, you risk losing the flavor or texture of the food. At the least, what measure makes it not even worth it, hardly a taste? We start to guess by seeing what everyone else does, and we learn by experimenting to find what feels right for us. If all goes well, you know what you like but are still willing to bumble through more trials to discover something new, or even the same thing over again.

It was a private moment of excitement years ago when I stood in my kitchen alone and put horseradish on a hard-boiled egg for the first time. I learned how much was appropriate for each bite, and was thrilled to experience this new combination (and discover a new vehicle for horse radish!). I wondered if this would satisfy anyone in the same way as it did me. I imagined standing in the kitchen with someone else, sharing horseradish in our own proportion, but remaking the discovery together.

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