ICE: Sharpen Your Senses...to Amy's summer music

So I meant to come to the computer to blog. I nearly always blog to music so I went to iTunes to put on a playlist. Which reminded me that I hate all the music I have right now and need new summertime music. Then I remembered: someone recently blogged about rad music for June! But who the hell was it? Pretty* in the City? Justine Larbalestier? Nope. But those are some of the coolest bloggers I know! Who else could it be? Mind you, this search has taken 30 minutes and still no blogging...

Then I felt like an idiot. Of course, it was my friend Amy over at Simple Things Made Great. I’m really a jerk for not remembering because she is most likely The Coolest Person I Know. She knows about fashion (come on, Amy, can’t you do something about this Roman sandal trend?!) and she really knows all about music. Want something fresh to listen to? Go check her list out. The bad news? Not a single album is available on iTunes. Which on one hand is enormously frustrating…and on the other hand, it’s yet another thing that makes Amy so cool.

Okay, so now that the search is over, I can focus on the reason why I wanted to blog. By the way, the Husband calls this tendency of mine the “Look! Something Shiny!” syndrome. Oh, that is the truth!

So over a week ago I went to another class at the Institute of Culinary Education: Sharpen Your Senses. It was taught by the endlessly lovely Margaret Happel Perry who, I swear to you, is Audrey Hepburn’s long-lost twin (accent and all). I could have watched and listened to her all night! I won’t go into too much detail but we talked a bit about non-tasters and super-tasters. We talked about the palate and how current research shows that you have the ability to taste bitter, sweet, sour, etc. on every part of your tongue, but some areas are just more sensitive than others. We did a blind taste test with Kleenex shoved up our nose so we couldn’t smell it. Then we made guesses as to what we were eating (cucumber, melon, and strawberry, all puréed so they were very similar textures).

One of the most illuminating parts for me was the discussion of how alcohol releases flavor. The instructor told us her husband is from the South and likes his chili with some heat; if she hasn’t made the chili spicy enough, she just adds a tablespoon or two of bourbon and they’re ready to go. Additionally, if something you’ve made is too spicy, add milk or yogurt to dilute the flavor. To illustrate the point, we all placed a sliver of ginger on our tongues. First, we sipped green tea, which complimented the ginger but didn’t do much for its flavor. Second, we sipped some Sapporo beer, which gave the ginger a slight kick. Well, if the beer was a little kick under the table, the SCOTCH was a punch to the stomach. I was a little embarrassed – I took the littlest sip because I really can’t stand scotch anyway. But combined with the ginger, it felt like my whole mouth and throat were on fire. I sputtered and cough for the next five minutes. Ugh. Point made.

We also had a nice conversation about “comfort foods”, foods that have so many emotional and mental complications that you can’t really judge it objectively. We had three kinds of pound cake: the first was Sara Lee, the second was a box mix, and the third was homemade with delicate seasonings. There was a very small group that declared they liked the Sara Lee best and ‘fessed up to growing up on Sara Lee with canned pie filling on top. It makes sense that they’d like Sara Lee best – the flavor of that cake is mired in memory and emotions. I’ve never tasted pound cake, or any thing really, like that before: three different types, all varying quality, one after another. And it was ordered as such so that we’d eat the lowest quality first and then work up to the highest quality. Again, though, quality can be subjective. It can be argued that Sara Lee is the higher quality because it’s frozen at the peak of its quality; whereas the box mix, because it has to sit on the shelf, needs more preservatives to keep it fresh-tasting.

Fascinating stuff, no?

Eat, drink, and sharpen your senses

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