This I Believe

Michele - Austin, Texas
Entered on May 10, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in sensuality.

I believe we are all created with senses that allow us to perceive our world in a thousand different ways. Each of those is a gateway to enjoyment, well being and happiness.

I believe in the sensuality of taste. When I was a girl, I had favorites like barbequed chicken and mashed potatoes and strawberry shortcake. My mother planned menus for all of our dinner meals. We loved looking at her map of various casseroles and main dishes which made up our weekly eating.

As I grew older, I became a breakfast connoisseur, savoring omelets or pancakes or French toast – Mrs. Baird’s bread sloshed in eggs and milk and placed on the griddle. A favorite breakfast of my early twenties was scrambled eggs, bacon, grits and a grainy wheat toast slathered in sweet butter.

Now, I spend hours pouring over recipes, imagining the taste of Oaxacan spices on chicken or fresh fennel mixed with Italian seasonings. When I dine in a restaurant I read every item, envisioning the presentation of grilled red snapper or steaks finished in smoky, aged whiskey.

I taste everything. In the center of my brain, I can recall the smoothness of French butter filled with the tastes of the Norman countryside, the bitter tang of aged goat cheese mixed with peppery arugula, the delight of fresh whipped cream and extraordinarily ripe strawberries. These recollections are so strong that there is memory yet on my tongue – memory of my grandmother’s kitchen with bottles of unpasteurized milk covered by heavy cream and at the farmer’s market holding tiny, tender strawberries.

I believe in the pleasure of taste. Taste – and the memory of taste – allows me to revel in the pure delight of being a sensual human being.

In my childhood, brought up – as I was – in a very rule-bound religion, to consider humanness as a delight was close to a mortal sin. God made us only for our souls. To be sensual was to be blasphemous. My delight in taste and texture has made me realize that God made us for both the body and the soul. I believe the world is godlier because I gather the sensuousness of life to me. I consider taste’s sensuous nature delightful, nourishing to the body and the soul, without taint of evil.

In the pleasures of taste I recognize the origins of life, the sacredness of creating new life, the pleasure of being alive and at one with all the forces of nature around me. When I savor a carrot, freshly washed and unpeeled, I taste the dirt it grew in and the sugar that saturated it as it grew. Oatmeal feels rough on my tongue, unfurled in the fields where it grew, tossed by wind and rain, tasting ever-so-slightly of tangy salt. Cucumbers are like tiny oases, cool and crisp. And peaches! Peaches are so sensual in their very essence I dare not describe them here! But, when the juiciest peach runs down my chin, I believe that I have touched the gates of heaven on earth and that I am humanly divine.