I was making cardamom simple syrup for a cocktail (recipe here), and having an imaginary conversation in my head where I tried to explain why I’m so obsessed with cardamom… and I was realizing that I don’t have good language for flavors. There are the obvious ones, obviously — sweet, sour, etc. But I was trying to describe in my head what cardamom tastes like, and realizing I had no idea how. It’s sort of sweet, but not quite; it’s sort of pungent, but not quite. It’s a Middle Eastern spice that goes equally well with sweet and savory dishes: it somehow makes sweet dishes more savory, and savory dishes subtly sweet. But that’s not very descriptive. Thoughts? And thoughts on how we use language for flavor? I can think of a zillion ways to describe what things look like, but very few (apart from the obvious ones) to describe how they taste.
BTW, it turns out you don’t have to shell a zillion cardamom pods by hand to make cardamom simple syrup. They do sell pre-shelled cardamom pods. Wish I’d known that for my 50th birthday.
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