I don’t like food, I love it. And if I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.

– Anton Ego, Ratatouille 

There’s a meal we had in Paris (two, actually) that is still haunting my taste buds. The first and only one I have space to tell you about was salmon sashimi on a bed of Japanese rice with a moat of salad greens, a stellar order choice we made at Nanashi, that beautifully-named restaurant. I love saying the word Nanashi, love its jumps up (na! na!) and the respectful soft shi, like a bow to see you out the door.

Why eat Japanese in Paris? Because it’s a French take on Japanese, and we were staying a stroll away in the Marais, and two different people had made us promise to go there.

Let me tell about the food again: sushi-grade salmon, soft and slippery and melting in the mouth, coated in the lightest salty vinaigrette, served on plump, chewy kernels of rice, sprinkled with white sesame seeds that released a nutty flavour and the crunchy/chewy texture contrast to the salmon.

Raw fish is butter for Asian people—similarly addictive, ecstatically consumed. And vinaigrette is a new obsession of mine, vaulted into a distinct category of existence after my first meal at Chez Panisse, when I was electrified by the very green taste of the fresh salad leaves, and how the subtle, saltier-than-usual and less-sour-than-I-was-used-to coating perfectly complimented the sharp tang of the vegetable. The vinaigrette at Chez Panisse is perfect, and so is the vinaigrette at Nananshi.

When confronted with perfect food-dom it is immoral to skip dessert. Ours was a matcha cheesecake. We know from green tea ice cream what a potent combination is green tea + cream. Well. This was no American, Cheesecake Factory production. This was a light, frothy confection of cheesecake, closer to the whipped quality of the Japanese strawberry and cream layer cake that I hope you have had occasion to try. And the crust was a solid, crumbly, hard contrast to the matcha goodness happening on top. Ecstatic indeed. Asians like cream too.

I enjoy food, as you may be able to tell, but I also have a deeper Theory of Taste. It is this: some people experience taste differently to others. Taste is three dimensional to me; an eating experience is not just consumed, but can be lived. I have swanned about the memory of a meal before—just look at this post. My brother is good at food too. So maybe it’s genetic, and maybe you will understand when I say that food creation and food consumption can be a symphonic, multisensory, very addictive activity in my life. I expect to be a dumpling by middle age.

Thanks for tuning in,


4 responses on “Taste

  1. Jitta Waree

    I think you can add a fourth dimension to your “Theory of Taste” which is re-living the taste through words. You certainly have the gift to draw us to your lovely tasty experience!

    1. Sunisa Post author

      Bigotry, snobbery, superior taste buds– it’s all the same thing. And yes, vinaigrette for its own paragraph. An Ode To…

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