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Which Favorite Flavor Is Yours?

April 23, 2010

sprinkle sprinkle little salt

People as Flavors

The nickname my parents gave me when I was really tiny, before they were, or I was, cognizant of my personal preferences, was Little Vanilla.

This was owing to the visuals: to the fact that I was nearly translucent, with tufts of white hair coming off of my head.

Right. So I don’t look like that anymore. But for my entire life, I’ve never really left the house without some sort of high spf unguent on.

I’ve always joked that I’d like to breed with someone with more aggressive coloring than I have, and it has been pointed out by various that unless I sought out someone with actual albinism, I’d be hard pressed not to do so.

People Who Are 4 & People Who Are Much Older Than That

The first time my now-husband met my family, it seemed . . . weighty. It was around the same time that my parents were stocking up on funeral plots for everyone in the family at a charming little cemetary in town, so they got one for me, and they also got an extra, that was unmistakably for my new boyfriend, this Harvard grad they’d never met. You know, *JUST IN CASE* we decided that we wanted to be together for all eternity, even when we were dead, me and this ivy-leaguer.

That is unrelated to the story, but I believe that it helps to set the tone for the meeting.  Let’s just say that expectations were running high, as they always are when you are in your 30s and you introduce newly significant others around, and it wasn’t the most comfortable I had ever been.

Besides which fact, I had anticipated all sorts of personal questions coming from the mouth of my little tow-headed four-year-old nephew who looked largely like I had looked at the age of 4, which is to say, somewhat like milk tinged pink from Apple Jacks.

But I was prepared: I’d forethought reactions to all of the possibly weird questions: sex questions, questions about living together, all sorts of stuff, until . . .

In the middle of the Spiderman puzzle he and my now husband were doing together, my nephew looked up and plaintively asked:

“Are you black?”

My husband is a combination of German and Polish and English, and he does tan rather well, but racially, there’s no question of anything but plain old white.

“Well, no one has ever asked me that before,” he responded.

The episode indicated that if this slightly tanned individual was the the darkest-skinned person that this 4 year old had seen, that the 4 year old probably needed to get out more.

Which Favorite Flavor is Yours?

When my friend Heather and I were in high school, waiting on some ice cream cones in the “to-go” vestibule at Friendly’s, a different four year old, also awaiting some ice cream, wandered over to our part of the 8 x 10 area. She prodded at a button on my shirt, looked up at me, and inquired, “Which favorite flavor is yours?”

Heather and I were taken both by the charming sentence construction, and by the idea behind it: that every flavor is a favorite. Your job is simply to identify the one that is your favorite.

Ironically, vanilla is my least favorite flavor. Don’t get me wrong: vanilla is indispensable to my lifestyle, but I see it as more foundational. Like, a cake recipe needs vanilla, but if you’re offering me vanilla ice cream with cake, to cut the sweet and rich, I’d rather have a glass of milk. As for ice cream flavors, I’d prefer a chocolate or coffee base, or a mint base, or really any sort of base.

I’ve been pretty successfully avoiding sweets but it became clear the other day that i needed dessert. No. Needed. And we didn’t have milk so there was no sense in making brownies. We did have some vanilla ice cream that had been lingering for a while. Except: sigh.

But left with no other choices, I put that into a bowl and thought — pistachios? jam? chopped up chocolate Easter bunny from Jacques Torres? Some combo of these things? None of it was really doing anything for me.

Finally I settled on a sprinking of this black salt (HIMALAYAN!) that I’d gotten a while back.

It made my vanilla ice cream look, and taste, just beautiful.

It’s possible that my favorite flavor is salt. Contrast is key.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Marie permalink
    April 23, 2010 6:17 pm

    It’s the rare post of yours that doesn’t make me at least chuckle a bit. This one made me flat out belly laugh. And a great trilogy of seemingly unrelated stories turned all- about- white. Ps. I love vanilla ice cream and wholeheartedly choose it over chocolate most days.

  2. Trisha Margeson permalink
    April 23, 2010 9:14 pm

    As always I love your writing and your humor. My neighbor Karen and I decided the other day that salt made things work; it was our number one kitchen ingredient.

  3. Rachel permalink
    April 25, 2010 2:37 pm

    I just discovered yet another Trader Joe’s delicacy along these lines – they do sweet and salty so well: dark choc covered pretzels, peanut butter filled (occasionally chocolate covered) pretzels, and today’s masterpiece: brownies with sea salt on top. ridiculously good.
    p.s. i believe the key ingredients in choc chip cookies are extra vanilla and extra salt.

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