Saturday, May 10, 2008

For Nonnie

The Origins of my Snobbery

I think my mother contributed greatly to my food snobbery, though she will undoubtedly deny it. She never dined on fingerling potatoes with truffle oil or arugula with balsamic vinegar when I was growing up, but she taught me to appreciate the subtleties of flavor and quality. According to my mother, for example, a Dr. Pepper is not always a Dr. Pepper. Go into any restaurant, order a Dr. Pepper, and you will receive a different bubbly beverage (assuming of course, that they offer this variety of soda. If they don’t, well, my mother would simply leave the restaurant as quickly as she came in. The worst possible situation would be to offer Mr. Pibb as a substitute. That is simply unacceptable.).

The ratio of carbonated water to syrup can determine the merit of an entire restaurant. Too much water and your soda is bland and over-carbonated. Too much syrup and the soda is flat and sickly sweet. The perfect ratio was something we continually sought- that perfect burn at the back of the throat and unmistakable Dr. Pepper flavor.

While a truly delicious Dr. Pepper from a fountain is as elusive as a morel hidden amongst the leaves, a bottled Dr. Pepper is a different story. I learned from my mother at a very young age that sodas in glass bottles are always superior to those in cans, plastic, or from a fountain. Period. This early lesson taught me that while flavor and texture are important qualities for food and drink, one must also consider the vehicle and quality of the product. Glass bottled sodas connote past times, classics, purity, and finite quantities. When one has a 8 ounce bottle of soda, each drop is savored. There are no free refills on glass bottles. Any restaurant in its right mind will be charging you full price for each bottle you down- so sipping and appreciating tends to take precedence over guzzling one down.

A glass bottle of soda points to a time when carbonated drinks were a real treat- not the primary source of fluids in one’s day. The way Americans pound down fizzy drinks like they are water makes me wonder how we manage to function at all with that much high fructose corn syrup pulsing through our collective veins. Sometimes I wish I was around when you had to go to a soda fountain shop to get a fizzy drink and there was no such thing as a Super Big Gulp.

Of course, my mother and I both favor water now instead of soda. And I wouldn’t drink more than a sip of a Dr. Pepper, and that only for nostalgic reasons. But the lesson still holds- follow your tastebuds and accept nothing but the best. And it always tastes better out of glass. And it's partially my mom's fault that I'm a food snob.

1 comment:

trina said...

Hey, happy mother's day to you.