Through my life, I’ve not been one to do much cooking. No, strike that. I have cooked, but I tended not to experiment. I rarely tried new recipes. I was a picky eater as a child, and I can’t count the number of times in high school that I made rice and beans for dinner (and in college). And I don’t mean anything fancy. I mean cooking rice with garlic, and heating up a can of beans with no seasoning. Salt was the only seasoning I’d use on those meals. Getting fancy meant adding shredded cheese.

My husband, is the adventurous cook. Constant exposure to him and his methods over the years has led me to start my own experiments with food and cooking. And yet, I’m almost always surprised when something I put together without a recipe tastes good. And sometimes my experiments do NOT taste good at all and need to be abandoned. Not often, because I’m not very adventurous, but it happens.

Last night, my husband and I were talking. He had recently made some ranch dressing, using a combination of a mayo he’d bought that was not so good and one that was. He said it wasn’t as good as it could be, because of the not great mayo, but that it was very good ranch dressing.

I don’t exactly know why, but I’ve never been into ranch dressing. I even avoid Cool Ranch Doritos. If the options for my salad are ranch dressing or nothing, I eat a dry salad. I don’t remember when or why this revulsion came about, but it’s been part of my life since I can remember. But, in the spirit of adventurous eating, I asked him what ranch dressing tastes like.

The question seemed almost to confuse him. To him, it tastes like how the combination of ingredients should taste. To me, the idea that I could look at a pile of ingredients and guess how they’re going to taste together sounds like magic. Maybe I’ve just never thought of trying to imagine that before, or maybe it’s another example of how our brains and perceptions differ.

It’s amazing to think that we all walk around this same world, presumably perceiving the same basic things, and yet, our interior lives can be so different. The things that we pay attention to, the thoughts that stick and swirl around in our brains. Some people, like me, have an intense inner monologue that usually includes music in the background. Others, hard as it is for me to imagine, have no inner voice. Some can call visions in their inner sight, and others can’t visualize an apple to save their lives.

Even our taste buds vary, and the ways in which our brains interpret those tastes. I can ask him how ranch dressing tastes, and he can answer me until he’s blue in the face, but the only way for me to know if ranch dressing is something that I like or even can handle, is to try it.

But I’m not sure I want to.

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