When we travel we end up eating out a lot. One of the discussions is about where to eat. It is amazing how the recommendations of two people can be so different. Often they have totally different opinions of how good a restaurant is. I am not one who has a dog in the fight. It is totally understood that I have no discerning pallette and my opinion is worth nothing. The reward of that is I can eat just about anywhere without issue.
Last night we went to a Thai place that my son introduced me to. It has some great selections and some that are just kind of forgettable. My wife kept calling it the Chinese place because they have a Chinese section on the menu. They have a lemon chicken that she approves of. In the discussion it became clear that our family has some food snobs. I, of course, am not one of them. I am a glutton and as long as there is enough I can be happy anywhere. To give you an example, I think the Golden Coral is right next to Nirvana. I don’t mind eating at Denny’s. They want to argue about the quality of the sweet and sour sauce or which type of fried rice is superior.
There are other fields of snobbery. I have always heard about wine snobs. They have a vocabulary all there own. Since I can’t remember all the jargon I did a search and came up with one example at The Inquisitive Vintner.
“Wine is a complex chemical beverage. Besides the primary acids of tartaric, malic, lactic, and citric, Australian wine scientist Bryce Rankine has identified 23 additional organic acids found in wine in varying amounts,...”And then, in the same paragraph, they add,
“Rankine has also identified 23 varieties of alcohol in wine besides ethanol, as well as more than 80 esters and aldehydes, 16 sugars, and a long list of assorted vitamins and minerals. Wine can also contain harmless traces of lead and arsenic that come from the soil in which the specific grapevines are planted. Complex indeed.”There is quite a list of words used to describe all of this. Among them are aroma, bouquet, texture, legs and body.
One line resonated with me:
“To a great degree, your sensitivities and tolerances determine your personal likes, dislikes, and preferences in wine.”
I am sensitive and intolerant. It all tastes, and smells, like alcohol to me.
Coffee also has its snobs. The first post that came up from a search honored Stockton Graham. The list of words is similar: Aroma, acidity, body, flavor, aftertaste. There is also profile and cupping. When I first moved to whole bean coffee and started playing around with a French press and a hand grinder I tried to get into this but I could never figure out what they are talking about. When people ask me is a cup of coffee is good I will typically tell them, “I can tell a really good cup of coffee and a really bad cup of coffee. Everything else is in a wide range of ‘it depends on how my senses are working today.’”
If nothing else food and coffee give us something to talk about.
homo unius libri