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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Oral Defensiveness

Some days after the truffle debacle, [see previous posting] I learn something scientific. When the weather is cold, ganache, when mixed with toasted hazelnuts and spittle, reformulates it’s molecules into cement. Conversely, when the central heating is on, wafts of chocolate permeate the air, goblets liquefy and form steady rivulets down the furniture and walls.

I am also reminded of a rule that I have known about for approximately 5 years. Although a flavour may be preferred, when it competes with texture, texture always wins. It is hard to describe the emotions that run through a mother’s heart and brain as one observes the conflict. Good mothers exhibit horror and concern at the agony inflicted on the child. Lesser beings endeavour to suppress giggles. I must admit to taking no ameliorative action, merely let the experience run it’s course. It’s is hard to reason, contain or communicate with someone who emits sparks whilst dancing on red hot coals.

Mastication is not one of Junior’s strong suits. His jaw muscles are on the feeble side, and his lip closure is non existent, except on high days and holidays. Aversive textures when introduced into the oral cavity, have the effect of provoking him into a spectacular ‘rain dance.’ If there is any doubt in my mind that this aversion is likely to be resolved in the near future, I only have to watch this battle with my own eyes.

His nose and mouth register the delightful flavour of chocolate. So finely honed are these senses that he is able to detect whether or not the chocolate is Swiss or Belgium. Both varieties are acceptable. Anything else is not, although we are making strenuous strides in the Ghiradelli department. So the taste buds are cooperating, but the receptors that register texture are rebelling. Hazelnuts, toasted or otherwise, have texture, a ‘bitty,’ granular texture, that is difficult to ignore. He is able to differentiate between the two but not separate them. If the ratio of ganache to hazelnuts is approximately 60:40, the average mouth would be hard pressed to separate one from the other. A substandard mouth, is overwhelmed with competing messages; ‘Texture! Spit it out! Yummy chocolate! Swallow now!’ Not an easy one to resolve for the best of us.

How does this conflict manifest itself? Well obviously we have to have a great deal of screams, as word formation is lower on the hierarchy. He needs to ensure that the volume of screaming, approximates the agony that he is suffering, namely loud.

When something is attacking you, the best ploy is to run away. Whilst this may be the lowest common denominator, it is also a sound theory. Not a very effective one in this particular instance, but that aside, running all over the house screaming trying to escape from your mouth, smacks of a basic internal logic.

Admittedly his fingertips are very sensitive, but they can on occasions, if pressured, also be very brave. Hence it is a good idea for him to use his fingers to help empty his mouth. Although he practices spitting regularly, he’s still not very good at it. If your spitting powers are inadequate, you end up with whatever you have expelled from your mouth, all over your chin and front. Making raspberry noises to assist with elimination, is a great variation on a theme, but ultimately ineffective.

Fortunately we are in a modern house with faucets, so cleansing his mouth under the running water is a great proactive gesture. The drowning, screaming, gurgling noises take a little getting used to, but it’s all moving in the right direction. Once the wet chocolate covered clothes have been removed he is in a more vulnerable situation. At this stage he resorts to electric chicken noises, an indication that he is about to reach the peak of his endurance. I hand him a wash cloth soaked in tepid water. He stuffs it in his mouth and collapses on the kitchen floor. His rib cage rises and falls, but the rest of him is a rag doll. When his breathing returns to something that approximates normal, he unplugs his mouth to say,

“you know, I am too tired to do dah deal.”
“What deal?”
“Dah dealing of dah cleaning dah spit truffle.”
would like to follow through. I should follow through. I should make him clean it up, or at least try to clean it up. He rolls over on the hardwood floor into a foetal position. He is asleep in seconds.

It’s an exhausting life, this food business.

Post script – should anyone find that they are sniggering, please leave your details, as I may need to call upon your indulgence, as a character witness for my next interview with the Child Protection League.

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