Like most people, I’ve spent the better part of my life living in constant temptation, barely able to control my desire to take a little sip of undiluted vanilla extract. Its disarmingly sweet, syrupy scent begs the age-old question: If smell good, why taste bad?
Experts often stress that the key to aging with grace is to stay curious about things in your life – to be inquisitive, to ask questions and take risks. We all possessed that innate curiosity when we were young – I doubt there is a soul among us who didn’t take an experimental nibble of Play-Doh during their formative years. It’s how we learn, how we grow, how we come to realize that not everything technically considered “edible” should actually be consumed. It’s almost a rite of passage.
So yesterday, in the spirit of embracing my childlike curiosity, I was in the middle of stress-baking cookies when I looked at the bottle of vanilla extract, decided to say “fuck it”, and took a tentative swig from that tiny temptress.
I did it. I took a little sip of the vanilla. The lesson I learned was swift and unforgiving.
The flavor was – in a word – potent. It hit my tongue and immediately delivered a breathtaking, unforgiving rush of flavor that was, at the same time, painfully over stimulating and coldly numbing. It brought every mistake of my past, everything that had led me to this moment, into whip-sharp focus.
The numerous warnings I had received from friends and family over the years replayed in my mind – warning me that I shouldn’t drink vanilla extract by itself, that it would “taste bitter” and that it’s “mostly alcohol” and that I needed to “stop bringing this up at Christmas every year” because it “ruins the vibe.”
Whatever – I still had to see for myself. I had to experience the unsavory flavor firsthand to be able to wrap my head around the idea that something that smelled so intoxicating could be anything other than pleasant for the rest of my senses.
This experience definitely taught me a lot – mostly that vanilla extract is for cookies, not for little sips – and I won’t be taking another swig again anytime soon. But this whole ordeal got me wondering about my jasmine perfume – it smells so fruity and alluring. Plus, I’ve always wanted to know what the liquid essence of a flower would taste like. My mind says no, but my soul? It screams yes.