Tasting: A Manuscript

Tasting is a series of essays about identity, memory, food, and the ways these different strands intersect. In these essays, I grapple with making meaning from the raw messiness of my relationships with others, myself, and my culture. Each essay and each recipe is an experiment driven by the hypothesis that understanding the ways in which we hunger can deepen our understanding of ourselves and each other. For me, this process of discovery explores narratives derived from experience and myth, perceptions from the spectrum of sensation, recipes I use to feed myself, and the ways these disparate elements lead to one person’s construction of the world.

Knowing is a process, not a product.

-Jerome Bruner

To analyze is to break down a thing or an idea into smaller parts in order to try to come to a deeper understanding. Like when I was a little girl, tearing apart the violets by the firestack. I didn’t just rip them into shreds—it wasn’t an act of destruction. I slowly plucked off each flower and leaf until the structure was naked, then I used my thumbnail to slice open the little package filled with clear particles of living sand granules. I tore apart the violet to understand how it worked.

But did I really learn how the flower worked? What do I understand about a flower now that I know what the insides look like? What if I didn’t learn anything at all from burning the rue? And I just keep tearing apart flowers and burning rue forever? Surely growth isn’t something that we just get by virtue of being alive.

-excerpt from “Coming Apart”