I tasted my first honey-crisp apple of the fall today. If you have not enjoyed the honey-crisp variety of apple you are missing out — they are sweet, crisp and well, have a hint of honey. Apples are one of those foods that the heavily depend on the state of the apple. An eating apple that is mealy or not at the right time of ripeness becomes inedible. (Unlike some foods, like pizza – for many of us out there such a thing as ‘bad’ pizza does not exist.) However, when that apple – no matter your style preference (Pink Ladies are actually my favorite) – is just right, the experience of eating it is as satisfying as eating any other piece of fruit.
So, I am wondering about this apple-nee sensibility of mine — from where does it originate? Do I have a built in aesthetic sense of apple-ness and I know it when I see it? Is my apple aesthetic subjective and based on my tastes and peculiarities? Is there a universal apple aesthetic that all of us share? Are my apple preferences based on thousands of different experiences of eating apples – particularly those encounters with mealy, nasty tasting ones? (i.e. I only know what I like from my extensive, life-time sampling apples of varying varieties and states of ripeness, crispness and sweetness.)
I think the answer to all of my questions is ‘yes’. Yes, there exists somewhere a unversal apple aestheic. Yes, I have the tools within to realize that aesthetic. Yes, some aspects of apple-ness that I treasure (like the Pink Lady) are not shared by everyone else (like those who live in the same house as I do). And yes, part of the process uncovering both the universal aesthetic and my own preferences come from my bad experiences and mistakes of eating some nasty apples.
No, you have not stumbled onto a Food Channel blog by accident … I’ve got more than apples on my mind, I’ve got LIFE and DEATH choices on my mind. This morning we read the Torah portion from Deuteronomy that will make its reappearance in two weeks on Yom Kippur morning (N’tzavim). In it the Israelites are challenged: God had placed before you good and evil, life and death … Choose LIFE! Well, duh? Who wouldn’t choose life 99.9% of the time when given the choice of life or death? So, why is such an overstatement of the obvious in the Torah this week AND on Yom Kippur? It must not be such an easy choice … kinda like developing or discovering an apple aesthetic and choosing the right apple each and every time.
Choosing Life – as we were challenged to do this morning and will again be challenged to do on Yom Kippur — is nuanced, complex and just plain hard to consistently do. So, tradition offers of this gift of time in the year to address ‘Choose Life’ challenge. We take time to consider our choices – both in the past and ahead of us – so that we can fine tune our understanding of Life. We work to remember what that universal understanding of Life looks like, sounds like and feels like. We tune and hone the internal tools we use to keep that understanding at the forefront of our hearts and minds. We try and balance how the way others understanding of Life affects us and our world. We review the choices of our past – particularly the bad ones – and try to use what we learned from those choices in the coming year to ‘Choose Life.’
May your choices be crisp, sweet or tart (whichever you prefer) and fulfilling.