Sometimes we forget that everyone has different opinions about almost everything. The differences may be clearly defined, my favorite color is blue, Alex's is green, or they may be much more subtle, he likes his steak to be rare, while I like it somewhere between rare and medium rare. In the first instance, although we may both like blue and green, there is a clear delineation between how much we like each hue and how often we will choose that color when given the option to express a preference. In the second case, the differences are very slight, so much so that our steaks are almost interchangeable, although there are subtle differences which will affect our enjoyment of the different taste and texture sensations of the beef.
This past week we ate pizza pebbles at WD-50 and an experience that resulted from this was illuminating. Basically when you place these pebbles on your tongue and begin to chew, they crumble on your palate. You've probably scooped up your pebble with a bit of pepperoni puree and your entire mouth is coated with an intense burst of pizza flavor in two textures. The effect is slightly astringent, so that at first your mouth goes slightly dry, amplifying the effects, and then as you continue to chew, the grainy texture combines with the saliva in your mouth to create a smooth emulsion, which easily slides down your throat, leaving a lingering pizza finish behind. The experience is very intense, and for those of us who love pizza, as I do, it can be very pleasurable. The flavor took me back to my childhood, where my favorite treats were frozen Celeste Cheese pizzas and these little frozen treats that I remember as pizza bites, which were basically small pastries filled with sauce and cheese that exploded in your mouth, a sensation that was duplicated in a very different way by these pebbles.
Not everyone appreciated them as much as I did. The person sitting next to me (who was not Alex), seemed slightly confused. "They taste like Combos" he said, in way that clearly conveyed that Combos were not his favorite childhood snack. Interestingly, in a later conversation with Wylie about the pizza pebbles (which he demonstrated by video at the conference), he made the exact same reference. "They taste just like Combos." he enthused. Clearly, he enjoyed those cheese filled pretzel snacks. And upon reflection, they really do taste like Combos because the outer pretzel coating had the same slightly astringent effect on the cheesy filling as his pebbles did. The tough thing about expressing yourself is that even when people get exactly what you're going for, there's no guarantee that the experience will touch them in the same way that it excites you.
We all work hard in or kitchens, whether professional or amateur, and I'm sure we've all had moments where we've wondered how people could dislike something that we've produced and feel passionate about. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes people don't understand what we're going for. And sometimes, they get it completely and just don't like it anyway. A thick skin is almost mandatory in this profession. Calluses are our friends. No matter how open to constructive criticism we must be, in the end, if you love what you're cooking, then you can never be sorry that it's on your menu or your plate.