I haven’t written a post in a while. Here’s why.
I wrote my last post about my trip to New Orleans in September. Since then, it seems like the world as we know it has turned completely upside down. People are angry and afraid, myself most definitely included. And writing about food rituals, or trips or recipes seemed to be either:
- ignoring the changes in the world and sticking fingers in my ears
- just really trivial and trite
So, I didn’t write anything, because I couldn’t come up with anything that felt relevant or meaningful. This past year has hit me hard. I campaigned for Hillary Clinton and was crushed by her loss. Every day, EVERY DAY, feels like we are losing everything we have stood for as a country and as human beings. The lack of empathy from the White House, Congress and regular citizens is beyond shocking. I went to the Women’s’ March in January and did feel uplifted. But with immigrants being posed as a threat to American jobs (they aren’t) with Dreamers possibly losing the only home they have ever known, with the mass shootings by white guys (if I hear “thoughts and prayers” one more time with no action from Congress). White supremacists are being championed by Trump. The free press is under attack. Lying is the new normal.
Basically, WTF, America?
So I have felt sad, depressed and afraid. Not conducive to writing a blog about food rituals. But it is the last week of 2017, and I didn’t want to let the year end without having a final word. So I am basing my final post of 2017 on The Five Basic Tastes, with a twist.
Our taste buds are able to distinguish the five basic tastes as:
So let’s take a look at 2017 in terms the five tastes.
Sour flavors make your mouth pucker and the taste is highly acidic. Perfect description for how the American people feel about Congress. Soured. And this is on both sides of the aisle, from the most ardent Trump supporter to those who championed Bernie Sanders. Bipartisanship seems to have become a thing of the past, with only a winner and a loser. Compromise doesn’t exist. And that is not how our system is supposed to work, my friends.
But sour flavors make you sit up and take notice. They demand your attention. We are seeing people becoming more knowledgeable in how our government works. A new interest in civics is taking hold. The sourness witnessed by many has created action. And that action is getting noticed, and is getting results.
Salt is a double-edged sword. On the one side, it enhances flavors, bringing out the nuances in a dish. Salt is key to bringing other flavors alive. It is the great promoter of flavors. We have seen the salty side of people like Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Doug Jones. They have stood up against oppression and disrespect from their colleagues in Congress and from the President. They didn’t back down when ridiculed or maligned. In fact, they got stronger, enhancing with their salty passion the need to stand up for those who cannot. Doug Jones’ triumph over Roy Moore was proof that good will prevail. They are the salt of the earth.
But too much salt is destructive. “Sowing the ground with salt” means that nothing will grow. Salty water is undrinkable. The soil of democracy and the lifeblood of freedom is suffering from contamination. Balance must be restored in order to bring growth and progress.
A bitter flavor is thought to have been a poison alarm, that a food was dangerous to consume.
Ya got that right. I have been very bitter with what I have seen happening in this country. Downright bitter, sad and angry. But bitterness became my motivator. I took my bitterness and decided to become a Councilperson in my town to help get out the vote. I live in a VERY Republican part of Pennsylvania. The Democrats here have had very little impact, but not for the lack of trying. So I became a part of a GOTV team for a local resident who was running for Town Board. For the first time in many years, the Democrats had a huge turnout. Unheard of in years before. And while our candidate didn’t win, County and State positions that had been held by Republicans for years are now held by Democrats.
Bitter flavors are in foods that are high in antioxidants. Which means, coffee and dark chocolate, while bitter, have healthy components. The point being, a little bit of bitter can be healthy in body and mind.
Sweetness is described as the most pleasurable of the flavors. It is the provider of energy and gives us our get up and go. But too much causes decay and disease.
Many felt that the Trump victory was a sweet one. There is a demographic that has felt unheard and unrepresented, and this cureent administration became their sweet revenge. But they have become addicted to the candy they are being fed. They will believe anything that this faction says, as long as they will get their treat. The problem with sweets is, they have no nutritional value. Empty calories. No substance, just a flash of energy that leaves you in withdrawal. When the country finally has its sugar crash, we will be in debt from the tax reform bill, and people will lose their health insurance due to the individual mandate being removed.
But there is a sweet side. The country has become energized. People who never before have ever been involved in politics are running for office and winning. Protests are happening and voices are being lifted. Look at how the African-American vote won the election in Alabama. Finally, there is a direct result that can be seen by the African-American community getting out and voting. People there worked so very hard, and proved that their voices can and do make a difference. How sweet is that?
Umami is a Japanese description that translates to “delicious taste”. It is the hardest flavor to narrow down, but is best tasted in cured or fermented foods like cheese, cured meats, soy sauce or pickles. Umami is a gathering of many subtle taste points that are hard to identify individually, but together create a complex flavor.
It’s a melting pot of tastes and senses. Umami is diverse and complex. It is multi layered. It is not one narrative but many. Umami is to be celebrated, not ignored or denied. Umami enhances and uplifts the other flavors. It is a common thread of flavor and taste. It is a unifier.
So here is what I leave you all with as we head into 2018:
We need all of our tastes to make this country a place for all. Sour, salty, bitter, sweet, all a part of our great heritage.
And Umami. My new slogan for 2018 is MAUA.
Make America Umami Again.
Wishing you all a hopeful and optimistic 2018, full of flavor and taste.