Saturday, April 11, 2009

A la recerche du temps perdue:

This story is exactly like Marcel Proust's experience with Madeleines, except for the considerable differences.

When I was young, my mother sometimes served canned yellow wax beans. I have always believed that these are the most disgusting food that anyone has ever made me eat, or even offered to me. I can still remember the metallic taste, plus ... euchh ... something else.

When I was about age nine, I categorically refused to touch them, and I never ate them again. I've had nearly sixty years of peace from canned yellow wax beans. But recently, I got to thinking: Might they taste better these days? After all:
  1. My taste buds don't work as well as they used to, and:
  2. There have been a few billion advances in food processing.

I decided to cook some canned yellow wax beans, to see if, just maybe, they wouldn't be so bad.

So there I was in the aisle of my favorite supermarket, looking for canned yellow wax beans. and not finding them. That does it, I said. Evidently they were so bad, that they just don't sell them any more. Wrong. Eventually I found exactly one brand of them.

While checking out, I told everyone nearby about my plan to revisit this awful food. The woman on line behind me -- she was about my age -- said, "They haven't changed the recipe." I brought them home and forgot about them for several days. Of course I forgot them! Why would I want to eat them?

Then I remembered them. I drained them, heated them in water, and performed the great taste test.

Memories of childhood came flooding back to me. The beans had hardly any taste at all, but I remembered what taste they had very well, and I clearly remembered the titanic fights with my mother when I tried to refuse to eat them. But that faint wax bean taste: it wasn't so bad. I'll tell you what I think:
  1. My taste buds don't work as well as they used to, and:
  2. The awful, awful metallic taste doesn't leak out from the can into the beans anymore. After all, there have been a few billion advances in food processing.

I ate a lot of the beans, actually. Now please, pass me a Madeleine.
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