Look at me.
I am a 53-year-old man, well past middle age, graying, college educated, experienced in the ways of both the wrench and the pen. A man born from two continents. A man who has seen the world from 36,000 feet in the air, and several thousand feet below its surface. A man who has stood on granite slabs overlooking fog-shrouded valleys that were created in the cradle of time by the same inexorable force that also gave me warm, salty waters without discernible horizons in which to swim.
And yet in all my days, and for all I’ve seen and heard and done, for everything I’ve touched or treasured or loved, I’ve never eaten a blintz.
How can that be, I wonder?
Cheese blintzes with black raspberries.
How does a man like me — somewhat world-weary, with callouses and blunted molars and a left hip that aches at night — awake one morning with the startling realization that there are more meals yet to be discovered than he has enjoyed in an entire lifetime of dining? That something as basic as food is reeling away from him faster than he can comprehend, never mind larger issues like the rapid retreat of dying stars into the distant fraying edges of the ever-expanding universe that houses them?
A blintz is not a complicated thing. It is a staple food for Jews. A handful or two of flour, milk and egg mixed without leavening. A type of pancake or crêpe.
I have seen them prepared many times. The yellow batter poured into seasoned flat pans blackened with heat. Cooked golden brown. Thin rounds laid out with spatulas on white china. Filled with molten chocolate, or warm ricotta cheese, or caramelized apples, or roasted peaches the color of lazy sunsets. Rolled and squeezed until the dripping sweetness oozes out either open end, giving them delicate hourglass figures that would make Emma Stone jealous, and that’s before they’re blanketed with whipped cream, dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon, or drizzled in raspberry sauce.
I have seen them mostly in port cities, where there were Jews and Jewish neighborhoods and Jewish bakeries to serve them.
I have seen them winking salaciously at me from wooden trays in shop windows. I have heard them whispering my name from curved glass display cases, where I found them reposed like lovers in beds of crocheted lace and lit like golden tourmalines plucked from the diadems of heaven.
I have have watched blintzes slide from red-hot ovens onto shiny white plates that were whisked away by white-gloved hands and dramatically placed onto white-clothed tables set with polished silver and crystal decanters and hand linens bound by circlets of gleaming rosewood.
And I have lusted for them. For many, and for one.
Just one small bite.
Oh please, please, please just one, just once, just one small bite, please I beg you, just one, just once, just the tiniest taste, please, please I must, just once, I beg you, please.
But I never tasted one.
Croquembouche — mini cream puffs — with a spun- sugar cloud.
Time always seemed to be slipping away from me. Or I didn’t have enough coins in my pocket. Or I’d already eaten the easy thing. The sticky Napoleon. The buttery croissant. Or one too many of the bite-sized croquembouche laced with wisps of brandy-colored, spun-sugar clouds that had to broken and lifted away in order to get at the custard-filled globes temptingly arranged into edible pyramids.
I saw them all right, mostly in port cities. Now I don’t travel very far, don’t live near a port, and can’t find a bakery with a curved-glass case.
I have not seen a blintz, not for a very long time.
But I remember them. Still long to taste one, just one bite, just once.
Do you understand me?
Do you know where I can get a good blintz?
And if you do, is there still time for me? Or has time raced too far ahead of me?
Is that it there, the loping black wolf of time with its ragged head turned back to glance at me angrily from the bloodshot corner of its ever-hurried eye? Is that it growling at me even as I shrink and shrink behind it until I am merely a speck, and then just a iota among millions and billions of other iotas, and finally just part of something huge and formless that shimmers grey and all but forgotten in the background far behind all the other objects that still retain some vestige of the rainbow hues that distinguish them from the black-velvet curtain of inscrutable existence?
I hope not.
Oh please, please, please, I hope not. I want one, just one, just once, just one small bite I beg you, just one, just once, just the tiniest taste, please, please I must, just once, I beg you, please.
Howdy, and welcome to the 14th day of Nicky and Mike’s blogging challenge, which I’m enjoying enormously despite having an actual life to attend to. Today’s prompt was entirely my fault. Regrettable as that may be, you will find other entries in today’s category over at their blog, We Work For Cheese.