Food-ish Writing
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Thoughts on Ph.D. Programs, the Arduous Task of Moving, and Food & the Senses

A seemingly-unimaginable-totally-wonderful-slightly-bewildering thing has happened to me—I’ve been offered admission to not one dream Ph.D. program, but several. While I’ll be making endless lists of pros and cons until April 15, one fact remains certain: my husband and I will indeed be moving again this summer, which brings up bitter-sweet memories.

Dunkin' Donuts coolattas

Dunkin’ Donuts coolattas

On a hot and humid morning in July 2011, my husband and I moved everything we owned from a shipment container into a U-Haul truck and then into our new apartment in Brookline. After hours of traipsing up and down the stairs with arms full of far-too-heavy boxes, we returned the U-Haul truck to its lot. Without a car, we were about to begin the mile walk back to our new home, when we spotted a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street. Having never eaten there before and only newly aware of its ubiquity across New England (this was months before I first began my research on Dunkin’ Donuts coffee culture), we were beckoned forward, strangely drawn to the strawberry-vanilla Coolatta we had seen advertised on television and that appeared on large posters in the shop windows.

One of the required books for the course Food and the Senses, which debunks the Great Divide Theory that generally argues that sight champions over all other senses from the Enlightenment onward.

One of the required books for the course Food and the Senses, which debunks the Great Divide Theory that generally argues that sight champions over all other senses from the Enlightenment onward.

Segue with me for a moment: I am currently taking a course unique to the MLA in Gastronomy Program at Boston University—Food and the Senses. In this course, we have discussed the synesthesia of the human sensorial experience, the fascinating and growing field of neurogastronomy, the primal and powerful role of food memory, and the limited lexicon we possess to articulate sensory experiences. It’s here that my story of moving to Brookline nearly two years ago comes into play.

Dirty and sweaty from moving on that now distant July afternoon, my husband and I each ordered a strawberry-vanilla Coolatta, a semi-frozen, slushy sort of treat. Perfectly cold, I slurped the powerfully sweet, red, slightly frozen drink into my hot body, cooling down from the inside out. The semi-liquid, icy crystals made a soft whooshing sound as they traveled up the straw into my mouth and down my parched throat. Even though I was uncomfortably warm from the labors of moving, my hand soon grew painfully cold from holding the plastic cup. As we sat, resting at a small table, seated on metal frame chairs, beads of condensation formed on the outside of the cup, matching my own sweat. Tasting not of strawberries nor vanilla, the flavor dancing on my palate was simply of a sweetness so overpowering it wrapped itself around my tongue, forming a saccharine blanket. Though without any smell to speak of, the red drink quickly stained my lips and tongue a similar hue, lighter than blood, but deeper than any red fruit grown in nature.

While I’ve never had another Coolatta, it was the perfect sweaty slushy that day and forever a memory of moving, new beginnings, and Boston—and these paragraphs an attempt to describe it using our limited sensorial vocabulary.

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