Persimmons, I reply. This tart thing on the tip of your tongue. The restaurant is filled with the murmurs of public intimacy, the volume calibrated to a Saturday night. You smile, of course. In the right company, everything is incredible: our gluttony reveals itself, unadulterated and childlike. I layer the ceviche on a fork, and reach across the table. Tuna. Persimmon. Jalapeño. Your mouth widens, then your eyes. (This is almost always the reaction you have when you eat tuna, something about the oils of its flesh, the way it graduates a dimension once seared.) In this moment I look into your eyes and recall the ocean, the way it takes on the moods of the world around it. If they are a window to the soul, the soul is wet. It’s true. You can pull the man away from the sea, but his heart will always be tossed among the waves for the catching.
Ever the people-pleaser, I make guacamole for a potluck of strangers and overdo it, fill the mixing bowl to the brim. Somewhere, I read to leave the pits in when you’re done, something about slowing the oxidation. I think about the seeds in the middle of ourselves, and how quickly our bodies give into the earth when they stop working. I lay six pits across the surface and in doing so, feel very alive. You ask for a bowl for a first tasting, scooping around my careful arrangement. This is the best, you say. I can tell that it was said in kindness more than truth, but we both know I have always only understood what I needed to.
The berry tablets arrive from Taiwan and have the appeal of chalky chewable vitamins, lasting up to two hours once dissolved. Known as “miracle fruit,” these little berries deposit a protein on your tongue that inhibits sour receptors and activates those for sweet—pretty miraculous. After that, everything tastes like it is bloated with sugar: vinegar is compote, a lemon is a lemon drop, kiwis are ripe to the point of fermentation. We sample little bites one by one, and by the second hour the sweetness is no longer relished or welcomed—too much of a good thing, as they say. But here are two things I could never tire of: sucking greedily on a slice of lime, and the way your face lit up, when you did.
They bring the cauliflower out with a disproportionate dollop of black goo, the kind that aliens spawn from in the movies. We’d found it on the menu under SOIL,” which now looks to be a very fitting denomination. Can you overdose on truffle? I ask, and you laugh. We agree: it would be the very best kind of death, the sensory excess alone could speak to our humanity. And like death, we devoured. For hours after that, the truffle clung to the back of my throat, a thin layer of dirt.
You watch me make dinner with a small glimmer of wonder, surprised that I measure everything with my hands. To this day, I’m charmed by human units: a fingerful of salt, a fistful of herbs, two knuckles’ worth of butter. Touching food seems like the only way to prepare it—everything tastes better when it’s made with love, or so they say. But no one talks about what food tastes like in love—like all of your days together, or better: like you’re tasting everything for the very first time.
Tracy Wan (@astroblemes) is a writer living in Toronto. She likes cooking for loved ones infinitely more than cooking for herself (last night, she had watermelon for dinner). In case you were wondering, this tuna tartare was very well-received—here’s the recipe.