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Taste and See
Knowing in the Biblical Sense

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

Smell is our most primitive sense. One unbroken nerve runs from your nose, up through a hole in your head (a foramen in your skull) to the olfactory center of your brain. That nerve is only one of two (the other being the optic nerve) that bypasses the brain-stem.

You can tolerate an ugly sight or a harsh noise a lot more easily than you can stand a foul smell. It's primal. A nasty taste, a close cousin to smell, is harder still to swallow.

From a psychological perspective, hearing something, or hearing about something, does not convey the same degree of certainty as does seeing it. These are two of the various degrees of knowing. Knowing "in the biblical sense" is another. When the bible says that "Adam knew Eve" it refers to a unity of being, knowing through and through.

Sticking with the good book, David wrote in a psalm (34:8) "taste and see." The Spanish word saber means to know, realize, be conscious of or taste. The Spanish translation of this psalmic phrase might then be, "saber y saber."

When you ask how to say "brag" in Spanish, people get a pensive, far away look in their eye. The most common response I've received is "presumir." While bragging is no doubt most frequently presumptuous, sometimes it is just plain true. Bobby Fischer was the best chess player, even if he on occassion bragged about the fact. The next most common response is "darte flores," to give oneself flowers, as is done to the winner of a competition or a singer after a particularly impressive performance, I suppose.

My daughter's apple pie

I am proud of my daughter for many reasons, smart, funny, generous... (kein ayin hara) But perhaps the most practical flower I give her is for her ability to cook. I go to visit her and I gain weight. Returning last visit to San Miguel, my girlfriend, Veronica, in not-entirely-mock surprise, gasped on seeing my pot belly. In not-entirely-mock complaint she fired off a message to my daughter, "You have to return your father in the condition in which I sent him to you." It runs in the family; not pot-bellies, but culinary skills. Both her parents are good cooks.

Twice in the same week I cooked for Veronica's friends. Once, Christmas Eve, I brought my red beans with goat cheese (and ginger, garlic, onion, rosemary, basil...) to a small pot luck. A few days later, for Veronica's birthday, I made my "award-winning" miso soup (toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, camote, wakame seaweed...).

Vero's best friend of over 30 years, Yasna, attended both celebrations. Yasna is a professional cook, who cooked for Bill Gates, his family and friends for five days at a retreat in Costa Rica. She didn't know who he was at the time and, not a Microsoft user, is still not sufficiently impressed. (I think she should use the fact in her publicity here in San Miguel. Contact me at the email below.) At the end of the retreat Bill gave her a $5000 dollar tip. Both my beans and my soup elicited "exquisita" from Yasna.

The other night, returning from the "super", Veronica lamented that she had failed to buy a treat for her son: "My mother always brought home something special for me from the market." Having already agreed to soon make an apple pie, and having just purchased the necessary spices (how do you say allspice in Spanish?), I agreed to do so that evening, the first time in over 30 years.

I could get going about the superiority of apples from New England (the cold brings out the flavor) or how next time I'll make enough crust to cover the top completely, but hot apple pie is hot apple pie.

If the mystery of life could be figured out, then we would have figured it out already. Enlightenment is not knowledge, but the realization that there is nothing that can be known. Subjectivity (relativity) keeps shifting our perceptions rendering objectivity hopeless.

I'm all for meta-narratives. Grand religious, philosophical or aesthetic explanations enrich our experience. But ultimately, he who wins is he who can appreciate another point of view.

Then, as the psalmist asserts, knowledge involves participation, "taste and see." The anthropologists refer to the phenomenon as "participation mystique." On this point The Beatles advise, "When you find yourself in the thick of it, Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you." And now it's dinner time. What would you like to eat?


Dr David has created Lokkal, a social network that is not commercially-driven (just being launched, starting here in San Miguel) as an alternative to the abuses of social media.

Lokkal will make the world a better place by nurturing community. If you want to join the community, please register. It's a big project to have entirely on my shoulders; if you want to help, please send us a message at the email below.

"Whether it is to be utopia or oblivion will be a touch and go relay race right up to the final moments." - Buckminster Fuller

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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