Saturday, October 30, 2010

Maple Syrup - Real vs. Imagined

So I am 40 - freakin' - 9 years old, and for the first time this morning, I had a maple syrup tasting.  I think I need to hold more in the future, but for this first venture into the unknown, I simply tasted real maple syrup vs. the artificial stuff.  Now mind you, I have typically only purchased the artificial stuff due to price more than anything.  But also due to availability. Look at your local mega-mart (as Alton Brown likes to call them), and  you will see the shelves full of the artificial stuff, but you have to search for the real stuff.  But a comment of a friend recently made me decide to pick up a bottle of the real stuff.  It had been years since I intentionally had ingested any of the real stuff, long before I was ever a genuine foodie at heart, so it seemed like it was time. 

I had been using the real in some pumpkin scones recently, but I hadn't yet done a side-by-side taste test.  I didn't make this a blind tasting, but I don't believe that would have mattered.  They taste nothing alike.  I mean nothing.  NOTHING.  Exactly how is the artificial stuff supposed to be imitating the real stuff?  Who in the R&D departments at these artificial manufacturers has decided that the flavors match?  Are they R&D taste testing wannabes who've never developed their taste bud palette surrounding syrup?  Or have they believed the lie for so long they don't know the difference?

I'm not saying that I definitely liked one over the other.  I'm not yet a real maple syrup snob.  I was more struck by the fact that they taste entirely different.  And how did this happen?

Which brings me to the even bigger question.  Are we a society that is so accustomed to the artificial that we have no sense of the real any more?  Is this the result of fast foods and microwaves?  Are the big, "evil" mass production facilities and marketers to blame, taking the root cause even farther back to previous generations where we began to accept sub par canned and bottled goods?  Are we all just so busy that we never take time to taste what we are placing on our tongues? 

I admit, I can be guilty of all of the above.  While I've never been responsible for mass production of food stuffs, I am just as much of a consumer as the next person, often accepting the taste of the mass produced.  I don't have many canned goods in my kitchen, and while I don't usually have canned vegetables on hand, I regularly have canned soup around.  Evidence of my role as a consumer and a mother.  Same with the fast food.  I've definitely done my share of that.  Trust me; I don't want you to review my debit card hits for any number of reasons, including this one.  And I may not use my microwave allot, but I have been known to purchase a Marie Callender's frozen lunch from time to time.  And I shudder to think how often I have eaten without tasting.

Taste.  It is one of the incredible gifts from our Creator that we take for granted.  He didn't have to give us a sense of taste.  He didn't have to create foods that taste good.  He could have given us basic manna to eat all of our lives.  But He didn't.  He gave us onions and garlic and cinnamon and turmeric and cumin and ginger.  He gave us leavening and sugar and flour and a craving for beauty in the things we see and create.  He gave us apples and pumpkins and cream and vanilla beans.  He gave us coffee and tea and butter.

And maple.  OR really maple trees that have this amazing sap flowing inside that some ingenious folks in our past decided to extract and boil down to enjoy.  And then some other ingenious folks decided to imitate this to make it more affordable to the masses (which I don't have a problem with). 

But somewhere along the way the flavor of maple got lost.  The real flavor of maple, so that we have come to accept the imitation flavor of maple as more real than the real.

How many other things have we lost the real taste for without even realizing it?  How many other places do we accept the imitation and have come to believe that it is more real than the real?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adult Kids

I enjoy my adult kids.  I now have 4 of them, but no grandkids yet.  (I do have a grand dog, but she doesn't really like me unless my daughter isn't around.  After a few minutes of crying when my daughter leaves, you can clearly see Addy look at me and mutter under her breath..."I guess you're as good as it gets for now..." so then she will snuggle, because ultimately Addy is a snuggler and not a player.)

But back to my adult kids.  They are fun.  The hard part of raising them is over or generally so.  I suppose we never really stop parenting our kids, but 2 of the 4 are out of the house, so I'm really just in standby mode for the most part with the 2 of them.  And even the 2 still at home either aren't open to much parenting or do not really need much.  In fact, my youngest - my baby - said that she was good to stay overnight by herself next week while I'm out of town with the other one.  Apparently I'm the only one feeling a bit unsure about this arrangement.  And I can't logically say why.  If you figure that she is 18, and I got married at the ripe-old age of 19, then what is my problem?  I'm a mother.  That's my problem.  The shoe is on a very different foot now, and it seems to be permanently glued to that foot.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not entirely...

I'm not entirely a morning person.  I hate early morning service desk tickets.  I received one at 5:06 this morning, and once I'm awake, I'm generally awake.  I work in IT, and this is one of the "perks" of the job, but I still have trouble loving it.

Even so, I can't seem to go back to sleep.

My daughter and one friend say that they are skilled sleepers.  I must not be one.