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The directions on nearly every recipe in the endless library of recipes almost always state the obvious: "Salt and pepper to taste."
And we do.

They are edible "Ebony and Ivory" and no other food couple has the ability to act as these two primary keys on the piano of your palate.

Cream and Sugar are light comedy in contrast to the full majestic drama that Salt and Pepper conjure. Garlic and Butter can give us a steamy bedroom scene but the issue here is not singular performances. It is the omnipresent, the omniscient, the alpha, and the omega – Salt and Pepper.

Salt stalks down the meat and pepper pounces upon it.
Pepper perfumes the fish while salt reminds it of its birth home.

Salt and Pepper sit not only in the kitchen with the thousand other odd members of the alchemical cast, but they are the only spices that rate the center stage on almost every dining room table. Think about it. Have you ever seen any other spice on a tablecloth in its company? If you did, you certainly wondered why. For example, "What’s the cumin supposed to go with?"

If you notice the salt and pepper at all, you don’t question its presence any more than you would typically question the existence of the floor or roof of the house you are in. That’s because they are like the floor and roof of the house. Yet in a play worthy of Sam Shepard or Beckett these spices can reverse roles in the eternal courtship of call and response. Sometimes it is the salt calling hither and the pepper in repose. Other times the other way around. But they are always themselves. Salt is never peppery nor pepper ever salty.

The greatest governors to ever preside over a table are color blind. Yet they color every taste. They are the spine, the illumination, the narrator, the judiciary and the jury to each taste on all buds.

The election is over.

Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 2000

 

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