For my beloved Brother who introduced me to the art of cooking, who taught me how to taste and truly love food. Without him I'd never be able to be where I am today.

December 3, 2012

Kissed by Cachi*

*I believe the proper English name for this fruit is 'persimmon'. I like to call them 'cachi' as that is the name I've learned to call them by living in Italy. 

There’s a certain beauty in tasting something for the first time. You have no clue what to expect, no previous taste records to delude your judgment. Your thoughts are running wild as you’re determining whether the new edible encounter will please you or repulse you. When you’re about to eat something for the first time many circumstantial factors come into play. You'll probably end up having different kinds of reactions, depending on your whereabouts, your mood, your state of mind in the situation. 

I think being a “taste virgin” is extremely arousing. As much as I love eating a delicious dish that is familiar over and over again, it’s far more exciting when the experience is completely new and thus somehow purer.  When faced with an unknown food item, I observe and I assess, I touch, I feel and I smell. Finally, when curiosity meets the acceptance, I have a taste. I find myself performing this ritual, which step by step builds up an energy inside of me that in the end gets released with the first bite. Most delighting is the very first reaction; the very first response to the interaction of the new food and my taste buds. But how do you describe a taste when you’ve never tasted anything like it before? Theoretically, we are unable to describe a taste without a previous encounter with a similar taste. We simply lack the words for it. But what if the physiological feeling derived from a new food item reminds you of something?

A friend and I had been sitting at a café for hours working on a project here in Bra. I felt weary and under the weather and was in desperate need of a little tasty snack to bring me back to life. In Italy, something as easy as having a quick bite can be surprisingly challenging for a gluten intolerant person like myself. The café we were at only served bread based snacks. A quick look out the window didn’t make me feel any better either; bakery after bakery after bakery. Typical. I felt defeated and cranky. Right when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, another friend walked into the café with his hands full of groceries. I couldn’t help my hunger so I suggestively glanced at what he had in his bags. Among all the yummy fresh ingredients, a strange fruit that I didn’t recognize caught my eye. I guess my hunger and my curiosity were rather explicit, “Do you know cachi?”, my friend asked me. Since my answer was negative, I was intrigued. He was kind enough to give me one.

Even though I was prepared to eat just about anything at that point, I took my time to perform my ritual in order to understand what I was about to eat. I had seen the fruit before, but a hard version of it. I learned that there are two types of cachi – the soft one and the hard one. Back home, it’s one of those exotic fruits that sit untouched on a little pedestal on the fruit shelf. All of them seem plastic, misplaced and are ridiculously over priced – a list of reasons that speaks for my disinterest to ever purchase one. In Piedmont though, the cachi season was at its peak a few weeks ago and the fruit looked luscious. I was pretty sure the beautiful fruit and I would be friends. I took a bite.

I got goose bumps, butterflies in my stomach and I blushed. I recognized that feeling, it was one of the loveliest feelings I know. I think the cachi and I became more than friends. I had just been kissed! At least that was exactly what it felt like taking a bite of a cachi. Who knows, maybe it was due to my raging hunger and my gray mood, but that the moist and soft flesh of this vivid reddish orange fruit felt like the lips of the most passionate lover. I lacked better words than ‘sweet’ to describe its taste, but there was no doubt about my feelings for the fruit I held in my hands.

I closed my eyes and stole another kiss.