Archive for April 19th, 2012

Finding words for flavor

I like to think of beer writing as closely related to food writing, while many food writers probably think of beer writing as the slightly retarded cousin of the family. Those days I hardly have the time to read the beer blogs I would have liked to keep up with, meaning I miss out on much food journalism that is probably worth reading.

I am currently reading Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, which I more or less stumbled over. Not a drop of beer is mentioned in the book by the former New York Times restaurant critic, but it certainly has other qualities.

The hype here is how she developed clever disguises to avoid being detected in the restaurants she visited, but these parts get boring after a while, even if they confirm that critics get the celebrity treatment. The unflattering portraits of other staff at the NYT do not interest me very much either.

No, it is the description of food that makes this something special. The language she uses, particularly when it comes to seafood. She goes beyond the standard cliches and evokes sensations of flavor,

I forgot everything but what was going on in my mouth, the fish doing a little tango with crunchy strips of artichoke. The softness of the fish was sandwiched between layers of crunch – the artichoke at the bottom, bread crumbs on top, the flavours appearing and vanishing in a maddening way. I thought I tasted chestnut, but then it was gone, absorbed into the deep musky flavour of the wine. 

I even learned something new. When reading the description of the perfect hash browns, I suddenly realized what it’s all about. It’s the Central European Rösti.

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