Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Why do otherwise sensible adults portray the difficult period of childhood as a Golden age of happiness?
Possibly because at that time we are together with people who are later separated from us forever.
I remember that, when my brother and I were children, the spring was a season of awaiting cherries. We both liked fruits, and they were practically absent from the spring market until the appearance of cherries in late May. My mother was always telling us that there would be cherries after May 24. This is a Bulgarian holiday which she had set as arbitrary threshold to add accuracy to our expectation.
Once, when we were having a full dish of cherries, my brother pulled out a particularly large and red one, called it Count Cherry after a character from Gianni Rodari's Adventures of the Little Onion and suggested we make a contest and use the cherry as a prize. He won the contest but then laughingly said that "Count Cherry" was rotten inside. Life always brings nasty surprises...
Like many other siblings, we had a quasi-language just for us two. This now extinct language included a special anagram for grapes, another favourite fruit.
What else did my brother like to eat? It is difficult to remember, because he hadn't the sin of gluttony and always cared for the others. He liked chocolate but never ate more than his fair share of it while I sometimes took from his share. There is a traditional Bulgarian dish, meat-and-eggplants hash (musaka sas sini domati). It is considered a refined dish because it is difficult to prepare, but actually few people like it. My mother thought he liked it, and he was duly eating it in order to make her happy. It took years for him to confess the truth.
Unlike him, I have always refused to eat things I do not like and never resisted the things I like. To me, no great painting or symphony can compare with the pleasure given by the tasty roasted meat, the sweet chocolate and ice-cream, the fresh fruits and other tasty foods.
I admit I have the sin of gluttony. But there may be more to it. Taste is our tool to evaluate the substances that will build and power our body. Hence, of all our senses it is the only one directly related to our self-perpetuation, to the machinery of being alive.
And now, when I enjoy some piece of tasty food between my tongue and palate, often a quick thought pierces my mind that my brother will never again taste anything.