Every so often the local Trader Joe’s, bless their trendy little asses, front–and-centers a display of some gargantuan amount of fruit for a ridiculous price and last week it was figs. I bought a flat — sleek, dusty California Mission figs, their dry black pelts shading into a pornographic blush before fading into the green nub of stem. They are full of gravelly seeds that slide over the tongue but stick in your teeth. I pop the skins against my palate before pulling the stem off. I could eat these things until I skittered myself.
There is this thing about eating fruits and vegetables that go back to the Bible, Homer, Thucydides. Olives do it to me too, the funkier and more cured the better. You feel as if, savoring the zest of them with eyes tight shut, you might open and gaze on an Athenian market or the streets of Pompeii.
Oliver Cromwell cultivated bergamot (the wonderful herb that gives the savor to Earl Grey tea; Andrew Marvell tells us so). Ophelia explained to us that rosemary is for remembrance (there is a plot of it on my front walk, which looks nigh unkillable, and stains your hands with an aromatic spiciness if you so much as stroke your fingers through it), so you can ride that sprig of greenery back into the sixteenth century.
I eat fruit and snuff herbs and tumble backward down the strands of my DNA. History is lurking in our palates and olfactory bulbs. And there are damn fools out there eating doughnuts and pizza.