I have some of the same twinges of basic craving for those salty gnarled little nuts from Hawaii as the ones I keep ruthlessly at bay for the vulgar fried potatoes and the costly fish eggs.Just writing of my small steady passion for them makes my mouth water in a reassuringly controlled way, and I am glad there are dozens of jars of them in the local goodies shoppe, for me not to buy. I can still sense its peculiar crispness and its complete Macadamianimity. Many of the things we batten on in our fantasies are part of our childhoods, although none of mine have been, so far in this list.
One does not need to be a king or mogul to indulge most, if not all, of his senses with the heady enjoyment of a dish—speaking in culinary terms, that is.This realization is cruelly matter-of-fact to anyone of romantic sensitivity, and I feel vaguely apologetic about it. I know that even though I eat potato chips perhaps once every three years, I can, whenever I wish to, tap an almost unlimited fountain of them not five hundred feet from my own door.It is not quite the same thing with caviar, of course, and I have smiled upon a one-pound tin of it, fresh and pearly gray, not more than eight or nine times in my life.I cannot remember when I first ate a Macadamia, but I was hooked from that moment. The Prince of Wales was said to have invested in a ranch in Hawaii which raised them in small quantities, so that the name stuck in my mind because and almost embarrassed myself by letting a small moan escape me when she put a bowl of them beside my chair; they were beautiful—so lumpy, Macadamian, salty, golden! I was perhaps twenty-three when I first ate almost enough caviar—not to mention any caviar at all that I can now remember.It was one of the best, brightest days of my whole life with my parents, and lunching in the quiet back room at the Café de la Paix was only a part of the luminous whole.My mother ate fresh foie gras, sternly forbidden to her liver, but she loved the cathedral at Strasbourg enough to risk almost any kind of attack, and this truffled slab was so plainly the best of her lifetime that we all agreed it could do her nothing but good, which it did.My father and I ate caviar, probably Sevruga, with green-black smallish beads and a superb challenge of flavor for the iced grassy vodka we used to cleanse our happy palates.For them real satiety, the inner spiritual kind, is impossible.They are, although in a noble way, cheating: an satyr will risk death from exhaustion, still happily aware that there will always be more women in the world than he can possibly accommodate.It is said that a few connoisseurs, such as old George the bouquet of certain great vintages a half century after tasting them.I am a mouse among elephants now, but I can say just as surely that this minute, in a northern California valley, I can taste-smell-hear-see and then feel between my teeth the potato chips I ate slowly one November afternoon in 1936, in the bar of the Lausanne Palace.