Geschmack, unverdorben (Original engl.)
But one of the dreariest things about January is that people start detoxing. The very word makes me cringe. Of course, after Christmas goose and New Year champagne a detox is a good idea – and there are so many to choose from! No Wheat, No Caffeine, No Sugar, No Alcohol…. No Fun.
My friend Holly is sitting in one of Berlin’s best cocktail bars, sipping on still, room-temperature water. ‘Ten to twelve glasses a day,’ she says, trying to look cheerful. ‘No other liquids.’
The girl next to us tells us about the ‘Blueprint Cleanse’, favoured by Hollywood stars like Sarah Jessica Parker. ‘Only green vegetable juice, for three whole days.’ She looks at her champagne cocktail doubtfully. ‘I usually like these, but I drank so many over New Year, I’m not sure I can taste them any more.’
The next day I’m in the passenger seat of my friend’s comfortable Audi, powering through the grey Brandenburg countryside. We talk about the famous Beelitz asparagus that grows in this region. ‘I remember the first time I ate it, when I was a kid,’ says Thomas. ‘I thought it was the best thing I’d ever tasted!’
I tell him about a well-known New Zealand chef who, opening his new London restaurant, served up one of his favourite childhood foods. Tinned spaghetti. Every Kiwi kid grew up eating it – cheap, filling, tasty – but it was new to the food critic from The Times. He complimented the chef on the delicious canapés, not knowing that, in a New Zealand supermarket, for less than a dollar, he could buy enough tinned spaghetti for a hundred canapés.
The first taste of something! It’s undeniably precious, and the more so as we grow older and have fewer ‘first’ experiences. I remember my first taste of black coffee, blue cheese, green olives, ruby grapefruit. All things I still love – but I can never enjoy them again with that first sharp surprise of childhood. Perhaps it’s a good idea to drink only tepid water for a month? Imagine Dom Pérignon after that…
We stop at a farm to pick up Thomas’s new puppy. The whole of the puppy’s life has been spent in this chilly cobbled yard. I struggle to pick him up: twelve weeks has resulted in twelve kilos. He’ll be a big dog.
Soon the puppy is sitting in the back of the car, looking amazed. He’s never been away from his mother. Never been out of his village. Never been in a car.
Back in Berlin, we stop at Thomas’s restaurant to give the puppy some water. At first it’s wary, timid – but then the cook steps out of the kitchen, carrying a gourmet sausage on a plate.
I watch the puppy rapturously devour the sausage. First taste of venison! I feel almost envious. Should I start detoxing today, give my tastebuds a chance to become young again? But when Thomas opens a bottle of excellent red wine, I change my mind. There’s always next January…