The Feminine Palate

“Why would I buy a woman flowers? A gift certificate to Best Buy is way better!”

I can’t help but scoff at my friend. He has no idea what he’s talking about. That there is something ephemeral and enchanting about flowers, something so impractical yet fundamentally romantic about flowers. Men often say things like this – like there is something unnoble about flowers, something disdainful and foolish about them. I feel sorry for them. That they cannot stop and smell the roses. Or see the beauty in small things and waning moments.

I like to buy flowers for my lovers. Just to be absurd. No one ever buys flowers for men, and perhaps that’s why they don’t understand them. But there is something practical about them, too. They are so beautiful. They brighten the room with color and fragrance. You can buy a bouquet for $15 – the same price as a mediocre bottle of wine, but flowers’ effect lasts longer, too.

Fruity. Floral. Sugary. Sweet. Pink, girly drinks. Ah, yes, the much maligned feminine palate. Often reduced to something oafish, unrefined, and ignorant. But this is a misconception. Women have more taste receptors on their tongues than men – their depth of taste is superior to men’s. Which means that the feminine palate is in fact a greater realm of the senses. The delicacy of flavor is wasted on men. Perhaps that’s why men don’t understand flowers – a whiff of oleander and jasmine on the undercurrent of a wine is lost. Instead, the masculine palate prides itself on flavors that hit you over the head – chipotle, black pepper, heat, smoke, peat, brine, saline, burnt oak, flesh.

But flavor, much like pleasure, knows no gender.

My favorite food is steak. Big, juicy, salty, peppery, fatty steak. Ribeye cut. Medium rare. Butter basted. Served with a side of cream spinach and fat glass of excellent red wine, ideally a cab but I’m open to something better if you got it. Light the candles. Get out the good silverware. Put on some music. Feed me steak. Give me luxury. If you love me, feed me steak, and I will love you back.

I was on a dating app recently, and when I told my match that steak was my favorite food, he replied with disdain, as if to say, ‘Of course, everyone’s favorite food is steak.’ Like I had picked the obvious answer. Like I was unoriginal. I forget what he said his favorite food was – people usually say tacos or sushi, which feels so safe. What’s the point of choosing comfort food as your favorite food. Why not pick something risky, something indulgent, something expensive and sexy. How can ‘tacos’ be someone’s favorite food? I can’t stand tacos – there is no fantasy in them. They have evolved into a catch all food, straying further and further from their point of origin, losing their cultural identity, becoming more like white bread and bologna every day. Time passes, and tacos become worse and worse. Made with bags full of industrially made flour tortillas. Topped with mild salsa scooped from a bucket that contains too many chemicals. Filled with all sorts of random ingredients – bland, boiled chicken. Ground beef. Dry carnitas. Dump some guacamole on them, and serve three for $17. What an embarrassment. Same with sushi. Saying ‘sushi’ is your favorite food is like saying ‘sandwiches’ are your favorite food. What does that mean? Cream cheese and rice dipped in low sodium soy sauce does it for you? Bleh. No thank you. Sake nigiri, however – well, that’s wonderful.

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