I eat almonds one at a time, the only proper way to enjoy nuts of any kind. They are delicious. They are crunchy and nutty and sometimes salty, and I like them. But once in a while, I encounter The Almond, which is the one nut in twenty or thirty that has the exactly-right flavor. It always takes me by surprise because I am not expecting The Almond in that moment, I am just expecting almond pause almond pause another almond, but here it is in my mouth and the message it says to me is Everything Is Wonderful. Everything Is All Right.
Food does talk to me, at times. It says emotions, which may be why I have had to work so hard to contain my longing for it, and to eat with intention and delight and self-mastery. For example, the perfect avocado, buttery in its ombre olive green, says peace and completion and enoughness, a 79-cent transport into bounty. For example, ground ginger without cinnamon says existential emptiness, a life without meaning. I do not eat it. I change the recipe.
So there is a reason why my almonds talk to me, but I have never found another person yet who says they find The Almond. Do you?
It is probably specific to my own history. I try to pinpoint what it reminds me of, the flavor of that single almond in thirty, or maybe more, maybe fifty. Far enough apart in the line of single almonds to not be worth eating more to try to access, anyway. Certainly not found each time I eat them. I try to think if they are always roasted almonds, or sometimes raw. I think both. Sometimes I think it tastes like my late grandfather’s kettle-cooked popcorn, a food I can never eat again; which would make sense because of that roasted nutty flavor, and also because when I ate it as a child, I was very happy. When Grandpa made popcorn and the aunts and uncles talked and my cousin and I warmed ourselves on the huge wood-furnace register in the kitchen floor, all was calm and all was bright. Or maybe The Almond reminds me of the sunflower kernels my mother gave us for morning snacks when I was young, when the world was new and all things nestled in their places.
Everything Is Wonderful. Everything Is All Right.
Sometimes love tastes like that, when the stars align and the glory comes down.
I may be eating a bowl of party mix one day when I pause and smile and look to the ceiling and say, I got The Almond, and my family knows what I mean and they are happy for me but a little jealous. It is not a game because there is only one player in it; when they get The Almond, they never know it.
As they eat their party mix, I am a little sorry to see them using up almonds that may or may not be The One. But I hope when they find-it-without-finding-it, it nourishes them unawares, and beneath understanding makes their heart of hearts sing.