What is it about changing seasons that changes taste buds? No, I mean seriously…no one sits around at the beginning of August saying, “Give me some chili!” We’re totally thinking “Hot Dog! Hamburger! Watermelon!” But in November, it’s all about the chili, the cider, and the pumpkin-spiced everything.
Some of this is obvious, because hello, fruits and vegetables are (or at least they used to be) seasonal. But it’s not like Hamburgers are seasonal…so why, in this day and age when we can have strawberries in January and cantaloupe in April and pomegranates any day of the year, do we still have any seasonal ebb and flow to our tastebuds?
I noticed this weirdness this morning, as it was pouring down horrible, horrible cold and horrible rain, was how I immediately thought, “I want a peppermint white chocolate mocha.” What is it about cold and rainy weather that screams “GIVE ME PEPPERMINT!”
My best guess is that it’s a link to memories…an entire childhood of buying the first available box of candy canes I could get my hands on…the memory of a chilly weekend in November visiting NYU with a good friend and curling up in a corner of Starbucks with a peppermint mocha…and now, on an uncomfortable dreary day, for $4.00, I can buy a bit of reassurance and a link to the past.
My second guess is that we still love tradition at the holidays. We love the sights and smells and flavors that belong to this time of year. To drink peppermint mochas in June erodes the value of drinking peppermint mochas in December. We love the significance we give to the seasons when we put away the barbeque grill, but pull out the pumpkin pie; we say goodbye to the last bit of Christmas leftovers, with no intention to prepare the dishes for another 12 months, because to do so would reduce their special role in the holiday tradition.
And somehow, the corporations know this…they know that if they put candy canes at the checkouts in November, I can’t help myself. They know that if they take away McRib and suddenly bring it back one day, that suddenly I’m compelled to want a McRib simply because I remember enjoying eating them as an 8-year-old. (GROSS.)
Really, a few minutes after beginning this reflection, my main conclusion is that I should be careful in the seasonal traditions I establish with my own family, because I don’t accidentally want to be stuck eating McRibs as our holiday tradition just because it links to some fantastic memory we all had of eating McRibs together. Which reminds me…Christmas this year is in a time-share in Florida, but, well, it won’t be Christmas without the sausage and cheese casserole, so…we can’t forget to pack the recipe. 😉