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Posts Tagged ‘tastes’

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I had my first bite of a September apple last week, sampling a crisp Macintosh from the white bag on the kitchen counter. It tasted delicious: tart, juicy, the embodiment of fall in New England. And I was stunned by the wave of sadness that followed it.

Since I moved to Boston, apples have been tangled up with September: crisp sunny days, cool nights, black-eyed Susans and dahlias and late daylilies in the flower beds around town. September is the start of the academic year, and in a city like Boston, that shifts the rhythm in a big way. And every fall, September has meant apple picking.

apple trees blue sky

Apple picking was and is a beloved tradition for my former church. I’d eaten apples all my life, but there are no apple orchards in West Texas, and I wasn’t prepared for the sight of their rambling, gnarled branches heavy with fruit. I fell instantly in love.

Last year, some dear friends who’d moved away came back to visit for a long weekend, and we made sure to plan our apple-picking excursion when they were here. We wandered the orchard and filled our bags to bursting and ate the traditional orchard lunch of hot dogs and apple cider donuts. There were photos and laughter and tired kiddos, and cold, fresh cider. It felt right.

This year, so much has shifted: I’m living across the water in Eastie, spending my Sunday mornings sleeping in or running instead of going to church. I’m navigating the end of the marriage whose story began when I was in college. I am not who I was, and my life is a testament to that fact. But it is still September, and the apples have appeared at the farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

I’ll keep eating them, because the flavor and enjoyment are worth the reminder of all I have lost. Things are different now, but life is still full of sweetness. I’m trying to feel it all, live it all, truly taste both the grief and the joy.

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I’ve been reading Molly Birnbaum’s fascinating memoir, Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way. Birnbaum was studying to be a chef before she was in a car accident, which injured her severely and wiped out her sense of smell. By extension, she lost much of her sense of taste – food became a bland texture in her mouth for many months.

Reading Birnbaum’s story has made me wonder about the tastes I would miss most – so here they are:

1. Fresh fruit, especially raspberries, blackberries and peaches.
2. The spicy, fruity or earthy flavors of my favorite teas.
3. The rich, dark, slightly fruity tang of dark chocolate.
4. Sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
5. Peanut butter.
6. Spiced apple cider.
7. Fresh tomatoes and basil, preferably with mozzarella.
8. The savor of tomato salsa – particularly made by my friend Nate.
9. The smoky flavor of mesquite-grilled chicken.
10. Cookies, scones, etc. – both the dough and the finished product.
11. My favorite savory soups – tomato, butternut squash, jalapeno and more.
12. Guacamole, with salty tortilla chips.
13. Any sort of Tex-Mex food, really.
14. The complex spicy mixture of Indian food.

What are your favorite tastes? What would you miss most, if you lost them?

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