Tuesday 31 May 2011


‘I like tastes that know their own minds, The reason that people who detest fish often tolerate sole is that sole doesn’t taste very much like fish, and even this degree of resemblance disappears when it is submerged in the kind of sauce that patrons of Piedmontese restaurants in London and New York think characteristically French. People with the same apathy toward decided flavour relish ‘South African lobster’ tails — frozen as long as the Siberian mammoth — because they don’t taste lobstery… They prefer processed cheese because it isn’t cheesy, and synthetic vanilla extract because it isn’t vanillary. They have made a triumph of the Delicious apple because it doesn’t taste like an apple, and of the Golden Delicious because it doesn’t taste like anything. In a related field, ‘dry’ (non-beery) beer and ‘light’ (non-Scotchlike) Scotch are more of the same. The standard of perfection for vodka (no colour, no taste, no smell) was expounded to me long ago by the then Estonian consul-general in New York, and it accounts perfectly for the drink’s rising popularity with those who like their alcohol in conjunction with the reassuring tastes of infancy — tomato juice, orange juice, chicken broth. It is the ideal intoxicant for the drinker who wants no reminder of how hurt Mother would be if she knew what he was doing.’
AJ Liebling, Between Meals, 1959 


  1. I like where he was going with that, when my parents were all of four years old, but I'm not wild about the use of the word "dry" to denote lack of flavor or character.

  2. I think dry was the lite of its day — calories and all that — I like his stuff, old school Hemingway-style journalist, mixing up food writing and war corresponding for a start. I’m in the wrong age.