My sister came over a bit 70s at a party she was having recently. She wanted to tantalise her guests with what she dubbed ‘taste sensations’ – little nibbles that would orally corruscate. She didn’t say orally corruscate, I said that, I don’t know why I did, it sounds daft now. To bring the concept down to earth, and to gel the 70s reference – a taste sensation is the sort you get when you eat the quintessential 70s cocktail party combo – the cheese and pineapple spike. Each individual taste, of strong cheese and sweetly acidic pineapple, are quite potent even alone and together they are deadly. I don’t think it an exaggeration to say they actually hurt your salivary glands.
My sister’s taste sensations were much more sophisticated and befitting of the fully modern lady she is. They involved no cheese nor pineapple, but fresh anchovies, pickled baby chillis and green olives, all clinging to their 70s heritage through the DNA of the cocktail stick. Delicious (not the stick).
At this time of year, taste sensations – small surprises for the mouth that almost make you say ‘oh’ – are great for keeping all that winter warming cooking alive and bristling. I don’t mean you have to ram fresh anchovies into your shepherds pie – the very thought – but little moments of extreme pleasure can really help puncture the winter gloom. This is the time to look to jars of baby gherkins, olives, capers, anchovies, strong parmesan, smoked bacon, pickled onions, sun dried tomatoes, dried apricots and dried fruit of all kinds. Intense flavours, concentrated hits. It’s all going to be ok.