A Man of No Taste
As this is Japan, people who visit my home on
anything but a 'drop-in' basis, usually bring some kind of small gift
with them - a small box of confections, some fruit, perhaps a package
of sembei crackers. These polite offerings are accepted with thanks,
and make a subsequent appearance on our table, where they are
But occasionally one of the guests will bring a
tallish, fairly heavy little package, and the pretty wrapping paper
from the shop cannot disguise that it is a bottle ... It might be
whiskey (rarely), o-sake (sometimes), or wine (more commonly nowadays). Of course,
my 'thank you' is just as warm and friendly as that with which I
respond to those other gifts, but this is somewhat hypocritical on my
part. Unlike my younger brother Simon, whose eyes would light up with
honest delight at receiving a present of this sort (any present of
this sort!), I'm not much of a 'drinking man'.
I'm not really sure why this is so, but I think it
may have something to do with my taste buds, or as I suspect, my lack
of taste buds. I just don't seem to be able to appreciate the varied
flavours of alcoholic drinks, and might as well confess right here,
that I can't even tell most of them apart. If we were in a bar
together, and you arranged a kind of test - putting a row of glasses
in front of me containing say, rye, scotch, gin, vodka, brandy, beer,
etc., and then asked me to tell which was which ... This is a test
that I would fail miserably. I suppose I could pick out which one was
the beer. But if you were to then test me on lagers, stouts, ales,
etc., it would be the same story. A beer is a beer is a beer ...
So of course when it comes to wine, there is just
no hope for me, as my friend Terry can well attest. He was visiting
for the weekend a while ago, and I dragged a bottle of 'gift' wine
out from the cupboard to drink with dinner. When we popped it open
and served it up, to me it tasted like ... well, it simply tasted
like 'wine', but Terry for his part found it somewhat less than
palatable (I believe I heard the word 'vinegar' muttered under his
breath ...). As he is certainly not a 'wine snob' type of person, I
deferred to his more well-developed 'taste'. We finished the meal
with some other accompaniment, water, I think.
So, as a consequence of this basic lack of
pleasure in alcohol, I end up simply not drinking much at all. The
main beverages in my home are milk and juice, and I always keep a
good selection of these on hand. I would estimate my total alcohol
consumption over the past year comes to about a dozen or so cans of
beer, maybe a total of a half a bottle of wine (or should I say,
vinegar), and perhaps one 'tokkuri' of sake (poured for 'kampai'
toasting at the woodblock craftsmen's guild meeting).
I suppose that this is just as well. Although I
feel a bit of a sad twinge at the fact that I do seem to be missing
out on something that a great many people find very pleasurable
indeed, at least there's not much danger of me becoming an alcoholic.
I'm sure I save a lot of money too, but I think the best thing is ...
unlike some people I know, I don't seem to have any problems with
developing a 'beer belly'! Isn't that right, Simon? ... Terry?