Monday, 22 August 2011

dancedancedance (and taste your chocolate)

Another non-cooking post because these days I'm doing more travelling and working than cooking so my food-related instructions would go something like this: wash fruit. Wash veg. Eat. Since I'm not much of a photographer, I'm not going to take artistic pictures of bowls of cherries and piles of peaches. Get your own. Enjoy how pretty they are. Wash. Eat. Dance dance dance.

This blog is called kitchen dancing because that's how I feel when I cook. It's playful and fun and creative (and I get to eat the evidence). I also feel like that when I eat. I love eating. More to the point, I love tasting and feeling and smelling. Like so many others, I spend my days in my head (I'm an academic) and so it's always a nice change to move into the kitchen and spend time in my body. I'm home in the UK for a few weeks now before my next round of trips and it's the best time to be here: stone fruit, berries, glorious bike-riding weather, warm tea in cool evenings but the sun is still up early enough to make running or going to yoga achingly beautiful and calm.

This time of year is all about delight. In late summer everything seems to be yelling "Use your senses, crazy humans! Slow down and taste! Slow down and look! Slow down and smell all these things before they shut down for the winter!" Since the world is telling me to notice it more, it seems fitting that I'm co-hosting a tea and chocolate tasting event this week and I'm sure people will ask me how to taste chocolate. I can tell them how I taste it -how I tease the different smells and flavors out of chocolate so that it amuses and delights me, but ultimately, the right way to taste it is the way that gives you the most enjoyment. Chocosnobs may disagree with me, but I say that if you get genuine pleasure out of scarfing the whole bar in 2 minutes, then go for it. I generally don't scarf my chocolate. I like to enjoy the tastes slowly, kind of like tasting wine (but I don't spit the chocolate out). I like to look at the chocolate, smell it, and notice how the taste changes over time, how the second bite is different from the first, how it reminds me of particular places or memories or smells or tastes. I like to notice the way it feels: how it melts. I like to let the taste fade after I've finished. Some bars have three or four tastes and some have dozens. Some are wild and some are refined. Some are loud and some are subtle. Some I love and some I dislike and some I'm just indifferent to. I train - I keep notes on how chocolates from different places taste, and on how different chocolate makers put their own signature style on top of that. I make my own chocolates and have fun noticing how tiny changes in technique makes a huge difference in finished chocolate. I get frustrated and get my friends to eat the evidence when things don't work. I crank up the music and dance.