"You know, 150 years ago and further, sugar was not easy to come by and was rather expensive. Today, it is everywhere and in almost everything. It is offered free on tables even. Sweet things were a real treat. ... In some cultures, fruit is still considered a dessert. If I tried to tell my family that we were having oranges for dessert they would think I was kidding."I'm struck by that last sentence. It makes me want to cook more simply, to learn to appreciate foods in their unadorned state.
Once, I attended a Christmas party (about 40 people) and didn't know what food to bring. I was running short on time and saw bags of really tiny, easy-to-peel clementines at a farmers market. I bought them, brought them, and piled them into a bowl with some napkins on the side. They were on a buffet table with other prepared dishes and desserts. About 10 minutes after people visited the buffet, the room became silent. And smelly. A strong citrus aroma rose from the laps of people peeling and pulling apart and chewing sections from their personal little clementines. It was a serendipitous, almost hallowed moment.