I have only ever seen my father cook two things: bread and roasted almonds. Admittedly, not being exactly sure of the necessary and sufficient conditions for an action’s being correctly described as ‘cooking’ I am unsure as to whether this was really what my dad was doing. But this is mere semantics – what concerns me presently are the almonds. (Semantics Vs Almonds: potential band name?)
Roasted almonds are a weird beast. This review focuses not an any specific almond, or any specific batch of almonds, but on roasted almonds in their generality, or at least the generality of the almonds that my father tends to roast. We can get one thing out of the way immediately: it is almost inevitable that in any batch of almonds – anyone’s almonds – there will be one or two burnt ones, and no food critic (because that is what I am) must let that sully their view of roasted almonds as an entity, however disgusting the duds may be.
Be this as it may, a more interesting conundrum presents itself for the food critic (because that is what I am). It is natural to think that any food critic (because that is what I am) should judge what they eat along maybe three dimensions: its taste (obviously), the way it is presented on the plate, and the ambience of the surroundings. Applied to a typical batch of my dad’s roasted almonds, the results come out thus:
Taste: Fairly uninspiring, but generally pleasant enough. Maybe 6/10.
Presentation: They look like almonds. Read into that what you will.
Surroundings: Usually consumed in my home, which is a veritable den of vice and depravity. Again read into that what you will.
One might argue that there is a fourth dimension along which a food critic (because that is what I am) should judge food: smell. This would usually, I think, be subsumed under the first dimension, since taste and smell are very closely intertwined, and it is incredibly rare to find an item of food whose pleasantness differs radically depending on whether it is judged along the taste or the smell dimension.
Rare, but not impossible.
See the thing about roasted almonds is that they taste pleasant enough (allowing for the aforementioned proviso that the burnt ones are not to be counted), but they smell absolutely rancid. You probably haven’t noticed this, since generally by the time you come to consume them they have cooled down and lost their smell. But freshly roasted almonds smell putrid: a sickly sweet smell that quite literally makes me heave.
So roasted almonds present the food critic (because that is what I am) with a dilemma: nice taste, foul smell. I am tempted, in the light of this, to award roasted almonds 3/10, on the basis that this is the mean average of the taste’s score and the smell’s score . But I think it behoves a food critic, such as me, to be a bit more imaginative. I thus award roasted almonds 7/10, on the basis that the disparity between their taste and their smell is extremely unique and should therefore count in their favour.
And I award myself 10/10 on the basis of having produced what is probably the only olfactorily-focused food review ever written. Or maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. I don’t do much reading.