Bread with Ham
Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira
Carlitos, how much is two plus two?
– Four, teacher.
Carlitos grew up, people started calling him Mister Carlos (and last name), and he realized, in a moment of good idleness, that 2 plus 2 might not be 4. He realized it while eating a sandwich of good bread and excellent ham.
In gastronomy, math is frequently, in the arithmetic field, a non-exact science. The sum of bread, with its sweetness and some bitterness, and the ham with its salt – simplifying: they’re better together.
The unity is strength… if not sloppy. Between right and wrong, pairing wine (or other beverages) with food is a game of pleasure, of guessing and talking. Some tend to match by affinities, some by disparities. It’s just like love relationships:
– What a beautiful couple, they live together for 50 years now. They have so much in common, it could only go right.
– What a beautiful couple, they live together for 50 years now. Were they not so different and surely would’ve been divorced after the first year.
Customer’s choice! This gastronomic challenge is culturally enriching. By itself, food can be just food. To me, there’s great difference between eating and feeding oneself. I feed myself to live, since I’m no plant, and therefore, I do not perform photosynthesis. I eat for pleasure, just like I like cinema, plastic arts or poetry. Wine is just alcohol if we don’t extract pleasure from its color, aroma or taste.
I must confess I’m kind of uncaring regarding the color. It’s useful to understand flaws or evolution, analysis tool, function and not shape. I don’t get drunk with ruby or amber. The same doesn’t happen with the aroma and mouth behavior.
Still, wine cannot be just wine, even if you like it a lot… a glass at lunch, another at the end of a day’s work and another for dinner… a few others at a party – If you drive, don’t drink.
Wine must be seen as a polygon. If seen as just wine, what purpose do the natural and human conditions that make up the terroir have? Inside a glass there’s, or there might be, history, literature, music, memories of a book, memories of affections.
I don’t like to cite myself or speaking egocentrically about myself, but this is an exception. I don’t own others’ experiences. And if who diverges wants to mock, then do it at my expense – since I own the prose – and not at others’.
One of this days I was object of laughter because I publicly described a wine as a geographical indication. Maybe I could enumerate a diversified bouquet, with some real flowers, some induced, suggested, made up and plastic. It was a fantastic wine, of great complexity. That Porto wine was from Óbidos, from a huge planter like a forest, hanging on a white wall of a real treat house.
Another time I defined a wine with the word «Christmas». I could have sung a rigmarole: cake batter, dried fruits, candied fruit, spices, blah, blah, blah… – oh boring boredom! Yes, it’s a pleonasm.
The more we add, the bigger the result – unless we pick heartbreaks. Every adding of history, anthropology and art means more that its unity. The result can be a simple and synthetic word… I assure, and rightly that I’m a good talker and scribbler.