The Bliss Point

I spend the weekend cleaning out my files and starting to organize receipts and such for tax time.  I have 7 plastic file boxes in my basement- one for each year’s receipts and tax returns for the last seven years.  I was always told the IRS could go back that far if they decide to audit you and you’d better have your shit together.  This is probably an outdated concept now in the age of technology and records being saved on clouds, but I’ll continue to do it until my accountant assures me I don’t have to.

I empty the oldest plastic file and insert the latest years records carefully into it and, in this manner, I rotate year after year.  Then, I sit to shred that 7-year-old set of files.  My shredder can only handle 12 sheets at a time so I’m forced to page through the papers and the trip down memory lane begins.

I come upon cancelled checks for piano lessons, Irish step dancing lessons and dresses, and of course the barn bills.  I remember the time our boy had to be shipped to the racetrack for the vet there to “scope” him to check for ulcers.  I find receipts for gifts:  saddle pads, polo wraps, horsey pajamas.  There are receipts for trips, birthday cakes, the time we went to see War Horse at Lincoln Center and all sorts of happy times.  As I feed them into the shredder, I am sad those days (and the little girls that went with them) are gone never to return.

Conversely, I also come upon the receipt for the cremation of our sweet dog, Ivy,, some medical bills, invoices for lawyers . . . . so many of those and the bills for packing up our pets, all our stuff – in short, our lives, and shipping us a few states away to our new beginning.  In my mind, I am transported back to that time and the ache of it all is so powerful, I find myself marveling at how we ever got through all of that.  There was so much pain, so much sadness and so much anger.  I am happy to slowly feed those into the shredder and watch them disappear.

As I put this years box down with the others, I am keenly aware that each one contains elements of both:  the bitter and the sweet.  What we hope for, with each verse of Auld Lang Syne we sing is that the sweet days will outnumber the bitter, or at the very least, we’ll reach the “bliss point”.

The bliss point in food is that perfect balance of salt, sweet and fat that keeps you wanting more.  Most meals we have fall short of this ideal but on that rare occasion when you find it . . . . It just feels so good in your mouth and you can’t help but smile and ask for seconds.

I’ve succeeded a few times.  There were Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners where even I was impressed with myself.  There were also times when I knew my efforts were just okay and fell flat or I just screwed up big time by forgetting an important step or ingredient.  There was one cranberry-currant tart I made for my Godparents that called for 1-1/2 C raspberry vinegar.  I thought it didn’t sound right but decided to trust and wow . . . . was that ever awful!

So maybe we accept that there are successes and blunders in the kitchen and in life.  Strive for the bliss point and put all the crappy memories in the shredder and forget them.




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