Last night I spent the evening at a friend’s house tasting a number of artisanal vodkas, all in the interest of science, commerce, and a project I hope to be able to tell you about soon. I know, it’s a hard life.
I can’t say much more right now that’s not commercial-in-confidence, but one thing I came away with was a new understanding of vodka, and by extension, my own capacity to taste. I was struck by how different a product I’d always thought of as tasteless and medicinal could carry so many different flavours and aromas and essences, depending on the distiller and his recipe and even the water he used. Some were ethereal and perfumed, others funky and spicy, though there were themes (acetone and, oddly, flamed orange peel were common denominators). Some had an overpowering aroma, others you had to tilt precisely in the glass to get any nose at all. One even had the bright crispness of chenin blanc. And so on.
Anyway, the point of this isn’t to talk about vodka. Without turning into a hippy-dippy Slow Food-type or three-martini Dostoevsky, this post is just to share the probably obvious (but oft-forgotten) realisation that it is worthwhile slowing down from time to time and realising that there’s a lot that I – we – do not take the full measure of, simply because the winds of time pressure and preconceived notions blow the other way. To the extent I can, it’s made me want to tap the brakes more regularly to appreciate what’s going on with what I am engaging with. Someone else created that drink, that meal, that book, that building, and dammit, they deserve that respect. Or to put it in more selfish, Prick-like terms, getting the most out of things necessitates focusing on what those things are.