“Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose….” -Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
We love food in our family. The exquisite clean food that tastes like itself only better. My kids have grown up lucky to taste foods from all over the world, prepared by great chefs. We have a favorite restaurant that we frequent for any good excuse, tonight was a collective celebration of multiple graduations and Father’s Day. It was the first night in weeks that we found ourselves at the dinner table all together, because of all the busy-ness.
Several of the dishes we ate tonight, combined texture and flavor with such detail that the sensation of the food was both overwhelming, exciting and confusing to the senses. Taste and smell are intimately tied, and yet distinct experiences. We usually smell our food before we taste it. This is one of the great pleasures of cooking is the building aroma in the creation. Edward Fitzgerald wrote, “Taste is the feminine of genius” and such the development of cuisine has been the artistic palette of women the world over.
A 19th century French chef, Lucien Tendret, remarked about the similarities among the arts when he wrote: “To give life to beauty, the painter uses a whole range of colours, musicians of sounds, the cook of tastes — and it is indeed remarkable that there are seven colours, seven musical notes and seven tastes.” Paying attention to our sense of taste is a form of good taste, which Rousseau called “the microscope of the judgment.”
I never quite considered before how the physiological process of developing your sense of physical tastes, you are also learning to discern and judge in a wider framework. It is an appreciation that makes taste come alive. Taking the time to smell deeply in nature or even in our kitchen, heightens what we taste. Sometimes it is also surprisingly the reverse.
Tonight we enjoyed scoops of lavender and rose petal ice cream. You can’t smell the flowers first by putting your nose close to the ice cream. You smell the rose and lavender in the moment of the taste hitting the back of your brain. They strike almost the same chord. Smelling rose petals as I swallow them in cream was a sensation that is hard to describe, except to say captivating. Glad to be here, wondering about how lovely life can be.