“I am a poster girl with no poster. I am thirty-two flavors and then some.”
− Ani DiFranco
If I were a flavor, what flavor would I be? The gerbil wheel inside my head begins to spin. I have commitment issues when it comes to answering quirky hypothetical questions, yet I start to flatter myself with all sorts of tasty descriptions: spicy, minty, rich, zesty, ambrosial, succulent, and luscious. Yes, I can be all of those things at times, but are any of them really me? I aspire to be spicy—exciting and sometimes a little bit shocking—but being spicy all the time sounds exhausting. I like to think that I’m minty—cool, refreshing, and maybe even “curiously strong.” But again, I can’t claim to be consistently minty. If I’m honest with myself, I must admit that, at times, I can also be caustic, bitter, cloying, sharp, salty, and even bland. How can I pick just one flavor to describe myself? My mind reels. It’s entirely possible that I’m overthinking this, but that’s one of the things I do best.
Perhaps I’m a made-up flavor. When I was in college, my roommates and I used to buy the big canisters for making Kool-Aid. Often, there wasn’t enough left at the end of the container to make a full batch, so we’d combine the remnants of various flavors to come up with things like blue lemonopical (Great Bluedini + lemonade + tropical punch). It actually tasted pretty good, despite its resemblance to the water you use to clean the brushes when painting with watercolors. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I want to be that flavor either. Besides, the whole flavor-combo thing seems like a bit of a cop out.
Surely, there must be an online quiz I can take to put this pressing matter to rest. After all, that’s what the Internet is for! A quick Google search yields 96,800,000 results. I select the first one and answer ten multiple-choice questions and click the What Flavor Am I? button at the bottom of the page to reveal my results: tea.
You are a subtle flavor, quiet and polite, gentle, and almost ambient.
Hmmph. Ambient, my ass!
I know I have 96,799,999 other links I can click to assuage my dissatisfaction with this answer, but instead, I decide to ask someone who knows me. I pose the question to my husband. “If I were a flavor, what flavor would I be?”
He pauses, thoughtfully, for a moment and then responds. “Purple.”
I suppose I can’t complain about a nonsensical answer to a question that was kind of absurd to begin with. Why not purple? I like purple. As a flavor, it could have a nice versatility to it. It could be like a concord grape, surprisingly tart but considerably more mellow if you add just a little something sweet. It could be eggplant, which looks a bit like a pod from some otherwordly creature and takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it with. It could be a purple bell pepper—something you may not see too often but that has a slightly sweet and satisfying snap to it. Currants, plums, lavender, figs, and shallots are all purple, as are blueberries and blackberries, despite their names. Even potatoes, asparagus, cauliflower, and corn can be purple. I can be all of these and none of these. I like to keep people guessing.
© 2011 Elizabeth Barton