The oh-so human palate

We have long wondered why there are so few great Riojas made. We have also wondered why rosé champagne is such a popular success. Or why restaurants skimp on olive oil, or on anything for that matter. Or why super spicy food has a following. Why many gourmet restaurants shamelessly serve frozen scallops and scarlet prawns. Why Canadian lobster is so revered in so many three Michelin star restaurants. As is farmed squab… and so much impersonalized and decaffeinated standardization.

After seeing the film Sideways, the winner of two Golden Globes that just opened in Spain, we have found the answer: we have all been thwarted in life and have to live with our limitations. The pompous wine connoisseur who tries to impress everyone by grandiloquently raving, “this wine has the aroma of a nutty edam cheese”; the drinker who, thinking himself a gourmet, recommends “the ostrich steak, very lean…” A magnificent image of a California brimming with retirees flocking to its wineries, with the only missing scene being one that features an Oscar-winning actor: Robert Parker.

We know some chefs that, when we point out to them that the piece of game on our plate was frozen, they answer with a convincing: “but I freeze it myself.” How is this possible in world famous establishments?

How can we explain that the most brilliant private wineries in the world are found in Puerto Rico?

Is it possible that most of this society, with chefs and winemakers at the helm, is more preoccupied with just getting by than with really living?

What is it that sustains the great farce that is life and gastronomy? We could defend various arguments that no doubt cite well-founded reasons. The more or less tormented infancy of each palate, the mental prejudices that play into it, the individual’s passions and aversions, the company with whom the experience is shared… the explanations are endless, and include favoritism and selling out. But in the end, the greatest limiting factor in society is people’s palates. And so much fallacy cannot be justified by different concepts, theories, tastes and otherwise—what ends up prevailing are interests, either economic or emotional, and a lack of perspicacity. But why this lack? Because of a neglect of one’s neighbors: if one cannot trust one’s own palate, how can one trust other peoples’?