by Karen t'Kint
These days taste like vinegar, deceptively served in a plastic party glass on a warm spring evening. Only after the first sip explodes into a million tiny drops down the front of your husband’s linen shirt, your new platform sandals and the side of a stranger’s face do you notice that the bartender has vanished.
The taste isn’t tongue piercing like white vinegar, nor does it have the slow, delectable flavor of an aged balsamic. It’s more like a chardonnay vinegar, best when blended with a teaspoon of Dijon, a pinch of salt and then whisked very slowly with a robust olive oil, one drop followed by another, then another, never faster than a drizzle.
These days taste like a chardonnay vinegar before all of that magic chemistry. Though a straight shot would make you vomit, a mere drop on the tongue tastes neither good nor bad, it’s simply incomplete. Turning it into something is the challenge. The recipe could easily go sideways. Too much salt; oil gone bad. Imagine the disappointment, the shame.
Everything is happening so quickly that I must be careful not to botch it. I need to do everything just right to make the best of this vinegar. I can’t stop to worry about getting the recipe wrong. There is no recipe. I’m making this one up. It’s gotta be good. At least it’s gotta be good enough. We can’t waste the lettuce or all the sun and water and love that went into growing it.
Karen t’Kint is riding out the Coronavirus with her family at their home in Encinitas, California, and counts herself lucky that the local beaches only closed briefly. She’s a student of Henry Shukman and Lisa Fugard who help keep her zen mind and writer mind in tune and in sync.