11 November 2005

The Effect of Wine Tastings on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Anyone who gets the subject line reference gets a toast from me the next time I raise a glass, and by the way, I've always hated the smell of marigolds and don't find them particularly attractive in a visual sense. My dearly departed maternal grandmother was a member of multiple flower societies here in town, and I enjoyed looking at and sniffing most of her flowers, but I never liked marigolds. Give me a good hydrangea or a well tended rose and I'm a happy lad.

One weird side effect of going to wine tastings on a regular basis and hunting out subtle scents and flavors is that you get hypersensitive to smells and tastes in everyday life. The first time I experienced this phenomenon was when I used to go on long backpacking trips. Away from car exhaust and urban pollution, I became keenly aware of the olfactory world around me, from the vanilla scent of a Ponderosa Pine to the grassy tang of fresh horse droppings. And since most of us didn't get a shower over the two week trips, I learned to identify my fellow hikers by scent. A guy could walk up behind me and I'd say "Hey Clark, what's up?"

I'm house- and dog-sitting for a friend, and while I used to live in this neighborhood, it's changed a lot in the last ten years. I wandered around a bit, couldn't find what I was looking for, and dipped off into the rougher section of town for some decent Buffalo wings. For my international readers, the standard Buffalo wing is a chicken wing (normally separated into flat and drummie pieces) that is deep fried and then tossed in a hot sauce and butter mixture for a bit before being served with long pieces of carrot and celery and bleu cheese dressing.

I ended up in a bar/chicken wing shack. Needless to say my pasty white face and red beard stuck out like a sore thumb, but I don't care. I ended up drinking beer with a math teacher who was grading papers over a couple of Coronas. I'm not quite 30, but this lady was younger than me and using a freakin' slide rule to grade her papers. The geek in me was greatly impressed. Finally the wings arrived, and I headed back to my friend's place.

Now, a lot of these establishments offer many different sauces. A good restaurant will change bowls between orders. Sadly, this place did not. I went for the original hot, which should have been simply hot sauce and butter, but I could taste honey, barbecue sauce, and teriyaki sauce in various layers. The end result wasn't bad, but not exactly what I was looking for--too sweet for my palate. I was more intrigued by the analysis I did on each wing in trying to discern the multiple layers of flavors.

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