This is part of the grateful series.
Lately I’ve found great joy in drinking coffee and eating dark chocolate.
I take my coffee black, and my chocolate dark (>95%), so I suppose it’s fair to say I enjoy bitter food.
Personally, I find bitterness to be a complex flavour – one that takes a while for the palette to respond to, and requires more attention to appreciate. Perhaps an example can better explain what I mean.
If you eat a piece of highly processed, commercial chocolate, like a KitKat, the process of eating and tasting the food is very one-dimensional. It hits you right away, and you get a rush of sweetness distribute throughout. The taste also fizzles away quite quickly, and normally doesn’t have a progression in flavour. It’s a short feedback loop, and if you want to continue to enjoy the taste, you quickly take another bite.
I find foods that rank high on the continuum of bitterness are experienced differently, for me at least.
Foods like dark chocolate and black coffee are processed over longer periods of time in the mouth, and possess a few stages of flavour. When a piece of dark chocolate enters my mouth, I normally experience it’s initial taste. That’s when it’s more bitter. As I continue to chew, the perceived taste evolves and I can experience the richness of the chocolate, and its associated mouthfeel. The taste lingers for a while, and normally an extremely small piece can live for minutes or even hours.
It’s quite satisfying.
I experience the same when I drink a cup of hot, black coffee.
I’m grateful for foods that offer this dynamic, complex, continually evolving flavour. I find it encourages, or enforces good eating habits. Eating less, eating slowly, focusing while eating. These are all properties that are necessary to appreciate bitter foods, but also with healthier eating.
Additionally, the allegorical side of me sees enjoying bitter foods as a parallel to how we should perceive events in our real life.
Perhaps those bitter events, where it’s hard to see the positives or negatives, are more meaningful. They require thought and attention, but in the long run prove to be much more beneficial.
Superficial happy or sad experiences are brief, and atomic. They fade away quickly.
Seek out those experiences that taste bitter.