(alternative heading: Ingredient Kwality)

I was eating at Eats Market Cafe (an excellent little brunch place in Westwood Village near me in West Seattle) and got a tomato basil soup.  But the story doesn’t end there!  The soup was DELICIOUS – I could say “with a capital etc.” here but, as you can see, I have already capitalized everything.  The key reason was the quality of the tomatoes – insane!  It got me thinking about the scale of “goodness” of various foods, and how steep a slope it is from edible to delectable.

For tomatoes, I think, the quality range is huge.  I love love love high-quality tomatoes (like what I get from a quality restaurant and assumedly from fresh grocers), I don’t really like grocery tomatoes (e.g. the ones at Safeway), and I actively avoid having anything to do with fast food tomatoes.  For some foods, the range doesn’t appear large at first look – take milk, or steak, for example.  The difference between medium and good quality is minor.

…or so I thought when I was first framing this discussion.  I realized that it is a sort of acquired subjectivity: I used to think most fish and steak was the same, but then I had really high quality sushi (in Japan) and really high quality steak (in a high-end steakhouse, probably in Manhattan), and realized the error of my ways.  Thinking about spice/hotness level, the range can also be quite precise but narrow – my ability to detect and discern between low amounts of spice is quite good, but past a certain point, I don’t notice any difference (because my mouth has already burned off).  But for someone like Wedge or Zac, who literally subsist off of spicy, the reverse is probably true – it’s the high amounts of spice they can discern between.

I wonder if this is a good thing or not – clearly, it can become more expensive if you begin to prefer the high-end stuff, but how much of this acquired subjectivity is tolerance and how much is precision?  Can the two be separated?