Dolma, dohlma, dolmades, rolled grape leaves. Whatever you want to call them, properly made, they are gosh darn tasty! Grandma made them at my house when I was a kid. She’d make me help her pick the youngest newest grape leaves off the vines around our house. Then she’d steam the leaves, make the filling, prep the rice, and work the whole long day filling up the big pot with the rolled leaves.
As a kid I didn’t think much of them. My parents MADE me eat them. Yuck. So THAT’s what catsup was for. I can remember them pretty well, though. And I know, now, that she had a gift. Incredible taste, perfect leaves, tender, yet firm enough so they don’t fall apart when you take a bite. I miss you grandma! And as good as I’ve seen all over the world, including some of my dearest relatives, no one comes close to what Grandma Z could do.
Here’s the catch. Go to a restaurant today, order stuffed grape leaves, and you’ll get something tough and tasteless. Yuck. But this time it’s yucky for all the right reasons.
Enter science! We have invented molecular gastronomy, the ability to dissect our food molecule by molecule and recreate it so that it tickles our tongues and fondles our fancy to the highest degree.
Which is where the fryer comes in. As Americans we love to fry everything, anyway. Entire turkeys. Ice cream. Oreo cookies. PB&J sandwiches. Even sticks of butter. But a chance encounter with a partially fried dolma made me realize that here was something that could really enhance the dish! For whatever reason, the dolma I received at a famous restaurant had been partially fried – and the normally tough leave was tender, crisp! That part of the dolma held together perfectly. The taste, well, they could work on that some more. But the leaf was key.
Which brings us to why I write this in the first place. What is it that drives us to create new taste sensations? Why is it so important to try and create a better dolma? And why, for goodness sake, is it so important to keep frying everything?
As we advance and improve, we seem to strive for even greater or more exotic taste sensations. But what does this say about our behavior? And what does our understanding of behavior say about our taste buds of the future?
Excuse me now. All this talk of food is making me hungry!