when i lost my sense
of taste and smell, i couldn’t tell if
the milk had spoiled. i took the risk.
all i could feel was the cold and the crisp
of the special k. that month it was
all about crunch. nutrigrain bars by the dozen,
crumbs in my bed. a spoonful of hot sauce
resting on my tongue, just for the faint tingle.
an unfinished tray of oreos.
sitting in the windowsill. baking.
i couldn’t face them…
it wasn’t so much the flavor, but the feeling
i missed. we all used to get together and sip
soup from each other’s bowls. rip away at
birthday cakes with our bare hands. some of this
we carry with us into the great “beyond”.
part of it is growing up.
when you’re that alone it can feel less bodily,
more emotional, the loss of sensation. i think that’s what
my mother had. baking bland biscuits by the tube
it wasn’t til i got to college that i started experiencing
real flavor. the good feeling in a meal cooked with love.
late night potato pancakes in the dorm room kitchen,
a bottle of wine snuck in coffee cups for lecture.
that three-day old sandwich you made me was one of the best i’d ever had. turkey and swiss cheese on
multi-grain bread. i wanted a million of those. i’m learning so much
about deli meats. that’s what you teach me. love is whenever
you offer me your pickle pickle. love was when you cooked me
something we both knew i couldn’t taste.
i cried, biting into that forkful of lasagna, finally able to make out
tomato. the sun was coming up. a new day
was dawning. i would get better.
i wouldn’t know how to live
with that funk. but i did, growing up.
jewish cooking has no spice, known for its lack of
decadence. all practicality, no glam.
as if keeping things bland connects us to the past like,
can we add some chili lime to the matzo balls, sriracha
to the brisket. on passover we order bacon cheeseburgers
and crinkle cut fries. it’s like christmas morning
all over again.
Remi Hirschtick is an artist, writer and party-thrower based in Brooklyn NY.
Remi curates and hosts “Drafts on Tap”, a monthly reading and performance series for artists who write at Cafe Erzulie in Bushwick. They are the head of events and programming for Lesbian Bookstore, a queer mobile bookstore based at The Baumann in Williamsburg. They work part-time as a metal and wood fabricator at a studio in Flushing, Queens.