Years ago Amaya read a book about the two bite club. While the details escape me it basically explained that you needed to take two bites in order to truly decide whether or not you liked a new food item because your first reaction might not be a true one. Amaya immediately became a member of the two bite club and over the years I have seen the wisdom of its method. We are often undermined by our memories of a dish when we taste a new version. In our minds there can be this perfect version of a dish that makes it hard to embrace a new interpretation. For example this week Alex tried a recipe for a German Pancake that was very different from our usual version. It was thicker and sweeter, had more apples and more cooked pancake than the one that Amaya and I were used to making. At first bite I was kind of confused by it. I wasn't sure I liked the thicker batter, it was custardy but still a bit too hot and a little too pasty to me. The delicate crunchy top that I normally savored had almost disappeared due to the large number of apple slices that had risen to the top of the pancake. The sweetness was louder than I expected and the apples were thicker and seemed tangier and more jarring against the larger mass of the pancake. I chewed slowly and tried to decide whether or not I liked it. I decided that while I didn't hate it, I wasn't entirely sure that I liked it either. When I went in for that second bite the pancake had cooled slightly allowing the pancake portion to set. Suddenly I could see the resemblance it had to a warm clafouti, though with less fruit and a bolder style. The flavors had softened just enough to take the edge off, coming together in a more harmonious dish. The German pancake was still bigger and bolder than our typical Dutch Baby but I was suddenly able to appreciate and enjoy it. It became something pleasurable and indulgent and we saved the leftovers to use as a dessert, served warm with ice cream. It took two bites to really see the possibilities in the dish and to let it ripen into something delicious and indulgent to savor. If I had given up after the first bite I would have missed it. I had to break through my own roadblocks to appreciate the true nature of the dish.
February 17, 2005