Friday, May 05, 2006

Taste

Earlier this week I celebrated the end of the semester by going to a new Italian restaurant close to my home. I decided to order the "Taste of Italy" because I liked the promise of a sample of different dishes; I wouldn't have to narrow anything down. I ate the whole thing, which I do pretty much whenever I go out to eat. If someone sets something in front of me, I make it my practice to eat it. The waiter came up to me and complimented me on being the first person he'd ever seen who could eat the whole thing. I didn't really consider it that much of an accomplishment, though. I'm pretty good at doing anything that doesn't require physical exertion (In addition to my eating prowess, I have also found that I am very good at driving for long periods of time and sitting through three hour classes).

What struck me upon reflection, though, is that I have no idea what I ate. Sure, I know what spaghetti is, but other than that I have no idea what the other dishes were. (Might have been some lasagna in there, I'm not sure). As much as I enjoy eating, I am completely lost when people start talking about recipes and dishes and flavors. I am not at all a connosieur of food. I'm not even sure I can spell connosieur. But I wouldn't trade my ability to enjoy pretty near everything for the ability to have a discerning tongue. What fun would it be to stratify food when you can just enjoy it all? I find my avoidance of taste extends to other areas of my life, too. I remember once in High School English class when a teacher asked me if I liked a book. I replied honestly that I've never read a book I haven't liked. A dozen years and hundreds of books later that is still pretty much true. The publishers do a good job filtering out the really bad stuff. Anything that has been published has to have some redeeming value. In my adult life I've read the Complete Works of Shakespeare, and I've also re-read Choose Your Own Adventure books left from my childhood. I've read feminist avant-garde poetry and currently I'm reading a teen novel for girls about Spider-Man's girlfriend. Just like food, I'll read and enjoy pretty much everything put in front of me.

The one area where I have traditionally exercised discernment is in music. I have certain genres which I'm not at all interested in listening to. I am also more intereted in categorizing music than I am other art forms. A couple notes into a new song and I'm already trying to put a label onto it. Until last night.

I made a point of watching the end of Lettergeek last night to catch a new Pearl Jam song. It was pretty typical gruge for the post-grunge era. Eddie Vedder was thrashing around like a young man, but I found myself getting distracted and thinking about how Pearl Jam fits into the current milieau (this band carries a ton of cultural baggage). My thoughts wandered from their politics, their support of Ralph Nader, and finally to an episode of "Blossom" I saw ten years ago where Blossom talks about how unattractive Vedder was. I thought about the unliklihood that any sitcom will ever again mention Eddie Vedder, and just like that the song was over.

I absent mindedly flipped through the channels looking for the Lakers/Suns game when I happened upon Leno's musical guest. I had no idea who it was, but it was a dude with a guitar and an unusually configured band: two saxophones (looked like an alto and a barry sax), a stand up bass, drums, and a keyboard. As of today, 12 hours later, I have no memory of the song's melody or even the title. All I know is that as I watched I knew it was darn good. I also didn't feel the need to figure out what category this guy's music fell into. I didn't even know his name. I researched it and found that he was James Hunter, a British guy so obscure he doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry (I kept getting Catfish Hunter's page). I found his official website and he was described as "blue-eyed soul and R&B." That sounds like a genre I would avoid, particularly if a contemporary band used that label, but I found last night that I don't have to use genre as a crutch anymore. I'm acquiring a taste of my own. Hopefully this doesn't spread into other areas of my life. I'd hate to have to leave something behind at a restaurant just because I don't like it.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you ate Lasagna, Spaghetti, Fettucini Alfredo, and Parmeson Chicken. Plus breadsticks and a salad with thousand island dressing.
-Sara

9:15 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Dang that's a lot of food.

I believe it was Six (Blossom's best friend) who said if you watch a Pearl Jam music video on mute Eddie Vedder looks like he's having a seizure. This, of course, was before the "Brain of J" video.

At one point on "World Wide Suicide" where EV is bellowing he sounds exactly like Sadie when a firetruck goes by.

Am I the only one who thinks "Ten" is PJ's worst album?

9:30 AM  
Blogger Azor said...

Dude, that parenthetical was so meaningless. If anyone doesn't know who Six is, they don't know who Blossom is, and therefore you clarify nothing.

You really think "Ten" is worse than "Yield"?

12:50 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Yield is prolly my second fave PJ album after Vitalogy.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I forget just why I taste. I yeah, I guess it makes me smile.

10:03 PM  

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