Thursday, August 12, 2010

My functional threshold for hearing the word "sweet" resets from day to day, but I think my tolerance is being tried by too many instances of sweet-talk overload.

Market days are my favorite days of the week, by far- I spend 5 hours in a bunker of vegetables, separated from people by a wall of peaches, an armor of eggplants and blackberry snipers protecting me. My one companion is a quiet good friend, motivated and focused but easy to joke with between rushes of customers. He's bitter sometimes but I play with that, happily- and when the hours are over, we pack up boxes and hug before I go home. For the rest of the day, I feel like I've done something. Plus, I often return with snap peas or apples.

Still, the public has a remarkable arsenal of annoying questions that manage to irk me inside my safe haven. The very trenches that keep me from dealing with the crowd all at once are the subject of every injurious interrogation- "is this sweet? which one is sweeter? is this sweet or tart? how sweet is this?" It's the phenomenon of hearing or seeing a word over and over- it becomes curious and odd looking or sounding, and then, if pushed too far, is downright annoying.

I can't tell you how many people ask about the sweetness of the fruit we sell, looking for 'yes' as their answer as they squeeze every peach and poke at the apples. Politely I explain sugar content and tart versus floral, all the while wanting to scream that it's fruit, it's sweet, and goddamn it, if it's sugar you want, go eat a brownie. I wish people would expand their palate's vocabulary and learn that things can taste wonderful whether slightly bitter, acidic, flowery, bright, spicy, nutty, or yes, ever so cloyingly sweet.

A blackberry is glorious because it tastes wild.
A peach has a bite that's like lemonade- acidic and fruity all at once.
The apples we sell range from slightly mouth-puckering to peppery to candy-like, and their flavors are infinitely complicated when we factor in texture- from hard to juicy to almost grainy and soft; all pleasant, but different, experiences for the tongue.

Let me put it simply. The raspberries taste like raspberries. The blueberries taste like blueberries. The snozberries taste like snozberries.

So pop some fruit in your mouth and while you're at it, swallow the urge to use the word "sweet." Leave some room on your tongue for a different description. Learn a little what besides fructose a peach has to offer.

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