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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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Language of Love


"You want to go to the grocery store with me?" I ask my youngest.

"Only if I can eat some cheese!" he says, with the shrewdness his brothers might negotiate for Cheetos, with their day-glo coating of "cheese-flavored" dust, more closely resembling deforestation agents than actual cheese.

But he means real cheese--not the imitation of its flavor by chemists who've evidently never tasted real cheese, not the vinyl textured processed kind, or the rubbery, bland ropes of it packaged for kids as string cheese. He means the cheese that is found on the opposite side of the supermarket from the dairy case, over by the deli, where tiny cubes of expensive, imported cheese are set out for sampling with frilled toothpicks. Crumbly, stinky, rind-skinned, glorious cheese.

This one knows the way to my heart is through his stomach. His brothers, raised at the same table, offered the same foods, wrinkle their noses at anything stronger than the little red wheels of Babyel -- baby cheese, a friend from France calls it. Pablum. They wrinkle their noses when something unfamiliar is set before them at the dinner table, or when they wander through a cloud of spices in the kitchen. Even his father, at 46, regards new dishes with an unconscious expression of suspicion. Not this one. He climbs up on the kitchen stool and breathes deep.

"What's that good smell?" he asks, as I fold dressing into boiled potatoes for salad.

"Fresh pepper," I say.

He inhales again, eyes closed.

"What else?"

"Dill weed, lemon juice, horseradish," I tell him, as if this were a Bible lesson, and I were teaching him names of the disciples.

At the grocery store, we discover that all the cheese samples have been eaten. My budget is tight this week, and no amount of pouting would move me to add an off-list bag of chips or candy bar to our cart, but I console him by offering to buy a wedge of his choosing. He chooses an apricot-colored "Thousand-Day" gouda we've never tried. It costs twenty dollars a pound. We leave with a four-ounce piece, wrapped in cellophane. Edible gold.

We don't even wait to get it home, but eat it in the parking lot, making ecstatic cheese noises, the conversation that needs no words, speaking each other's language.



Blogger Susan said...

I, for one, wouldn't snitch if you gave him a little nip of Shiraz to wash it down. It's only right.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Harper said...

Great post Kyran, so good in fact my nose wrinkled a bit while reading about the different types of cheese and as for that salad, I don't even need proportions now, I think I can make it just based on the ingredients list and your lovely way of telling the story.

It sounds as if he knows his path already ... better start saving for chef school.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Cid said...

My youngest is the same. His older brothers would live on Kraft Dinner and hotdogs while he eats anything and everything off my plate from quinoa salad to lentils. If anything he was raised with fewer food choices since his brothers were eating solids before he was born. Nature versus nurture? No question in my mind.

10:07 AM  
Blogger TWINTALES said...

Mmmmm... I have one just like him. We used to stand in front of the cheese stand at the farmer's market as the guy handed out sample after sample. He tried everything and his favorites were always the crumbliest, stinkiest. My mouth is watering just at the recollection.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Elizabeth, I left out the base: no mayo, just olive oil and sour cream. Oh, and of course, sea salt!

Cid, yes, having three such different palates among my kids has proven to me beyond a doubt it's nature vs nuture.

10:14 AM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

he is destined for Paris ( with his cheese loving Nanny!

11:46 AM  
Blogger Ralph said...


1:41 PM  
Blogger Gretarenee said...

I love that little guy!

He sounds more like a Pittman than Houston!

5:20 PM  
Blogger Jomama said...

What a blessing that you got one with good tastebuds. My youngest only eats beige food. His older brother rewards me with appreciative sounds when I try something new.

At least 2 of us will eat well in my house.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Stephene said...

Loved this post. Just loved it.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

I knew this one was going to be different when, as a pre-walking/pre-talking baby, offered a lime, he would take a big bite, grimace/pucker/shudder and then go back for another bite.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Tania Kindersley said...

I wish I could remember how I found my way to your blog, but I am so glad I did. This is a stunning piece of writing. Love your little chap, and love the ecstatic cheese noises.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

I adore the thought of you and he, speaking each other's language without speaking at all. But by eating, communing and being with each other. xo

8:55 PM  
Blogger Schmutzie said...

This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday!

11:40 AM  
Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I love this. What a great trait to have. I have 1 good eater, too, but haven't given up hope on the other 2 just yet...

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it! The pleasure/passion he gets with food is great. I could feel it in your writing.

12:46 PM  
Blogger [Megan] said...

i can't even begin to tell you all the ways in which i love this post...

12:25 PM  
Blogger Spirited seeker said...

Hey Kyran,

I discovered your blog some days back, and am now addicted! Have read several posts. The insights you bring to events and life, they make me nod so much in agreement.

It's amazing human beings are the same everywhere. I in India can identify with so much you say.

Best wishes,

10:58 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Thanks so much!

10:14 AM  

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