I’m obsessed with fresh, organic basil. At first it was just a mild flirtation and
before that—say a year or two—it was outright hatred. The scent was too pungent or
floral; a bit too bold for my taste. Things changed suddenly. I’ve heard our taste
buds change as we get older. That’s why old people like beets. My mother said that
at a buffet once. She’s usually right so I believed her. Like her, I’m drawn to
spicy foods. Ethnic foods tend to be spicy or you can get them in ranges—mild, medium,
hot, too hot. Not sure what defines ethnic foods anymore. This phrase implies there’s
one standard food by which all other food is compared. I like the word “ethnic” though—my
mouth does water at the thought. This is odd. Maybe there’s more seasonings worked
into the dishes made by people with skin color different than mine. That’s the basis
for ethnicity these days. Even food is the “other.” Organic food is the “other”
now too. It’s off to the side at the supermarket; it’s with the other expensive,
specialty, ethnic foods. That’s where I find the strangest people loitering about.
I suppose I’m strange that way too. Never used to be. I used to eat eggs from any
carton on sale. Now, I wonder if the chickens were treated right, were fed right,
got enough free ranging exercise. It’s all nonsense so I began to concentrate on
herbs. They’re easier to incorporate into 30-minute meals. Thyme is pungent, but
satisfying in stews, and oddly, chicken enchiladas. Is garlic an herb? I can never
remember. It reminds me of tomatoes—they’re fruit, not vegetables. And strawberries
are the only fruit that carry their seeds on the outside. But they’re flowers. Freaky.
Ground pepper is my all-time favorite spice. It increases the metabolism. I put
it on everything so I can have dessert after my meals. Does that mean I’m superficial?
I really don’t have time for that. I just found out that some dried spices are kept
on market shelves for 15 years. That’s gross.