The simple things

So here I am alone with a cherry pie and a glass of cold, whole milk at 2:30 in the morning and I couldn't be happier. People always wax poetic about the simple things in life, but what is so special about simple food? Why is it that one perfectly ripe tomato and a little coarse ground salt can make our day and give us something to smile about? The answer lies in taste memories and good food presented honestly.

Our own individual taste memories have a lot to do with our sense of smell. When we chew our food, our nose plays a big role in how our brain perceives the flavors of what is in our mouths. This was very important during our evolution. The ability to remember what food smells like versus poisonous plants is an innate skill that we acquired simply because our ancestors were the ones who learned quickly from others' mistakes. Our olfactory and taste receptors are hard wired to our brain. Specifically, the hippocampus which is the main contributor to forming new and lasting memories. Because of all of this, we as humans have the wonderful ability to taste something and be instantly transported to a specific place and time. We have already assigned importance to that memory, either good or bad and we are stuck with it. This is one of the reasons I am enjoying this cherry pie right now (piece number two). On the first bite, I remembered playing under my grandmother's bent and crooked apple tree while the scent of a freshly baked cherry pie drifted out the window. These experiences and episodes in our lives are locked up deep until a specific key is presented and they all come flooding back (piece number three, it's a small one though) instantly and we are treated to our own mini movie of our lives. All this from a bite of pie.

In a world where we are able to purchase asparagus in October, or a tomato in January, our palates have become dulled to the true and unmolested flavor of food grown honestly and in season. Truly simple flavors and experiences need no enhancement or cover-ups. We're not trying to hide anything when we pick strawberries right from the patch and eat them standing in the middle of a field. Quality produce and proteins aren't cheap, and it's hard for some people to taste the difference when they are used to throwing Emeril's Cajun seasoning on everything. With food though, like a dwindling number of things, you typically get what you pay for. It takes time to allow food to ripen or grow, and it's not making you any money sitting on a shelf or walking around a field waiting for that perfect moment of maturity. In the long run though, you will spend less time preparing a meal of perfect products because you won't have to mess around with changing the way that they taste. Letting the pure natural flavors of quality products shine through is easy if you treat them simply and adorn them with nothing but praise.

The simple things in life are so enjoyable because we don't have to work at them. We just automatically accept them for what they are and expect nothing out of the ordinary but are rewarded with quiet contentment followed by a smirk as if we are the only ones to be able to enjoy this simple treat.

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