When the soprano kissed the coalman


She steps through theater air. Her hair, a radiant gold, swaying like an Tupelo porch swing. Her voice piercing and melodic. Notes of apricot and honeydew hang like ornaments. She smells of honeysuckle and wears a glycerin smile. Her name Tokaj (“toe-kye”). She is born from northeastern Hungary. Her audience often summoned by royal degree.

Brazilian coalman in Rio de Janeiro, photo courtesy of Jan Sochor

Brazilian coalman in Rio de Janeiro, photo courtesy of Jan Sochor

He is a man of the inner mountain with large, thick hands. The mere sight of them a humbles us with thoughts of heavy work in a sunless place. Dust shades the rosy disposition of the Coalman.

A smoke ring from low torches penetrates his skin. And yet his eyes lucid and tender. A tension between peppered spice and melting richness.

How might an angel’s elevation find a man of the underground? Their union a contrast of reason. She with aesthetic and poise, at the pinnacle of refinement. And he with ethic and toil, echoing a soul’s labor.

Pastrami from Pieous paired up with Tokaj desert wine

Pastrami from Pieous paired up with Tokaj desert wine

Their union is the stuff of an ad man. A wizard of persuasion. A whistful daydream that brought two characters into forever union. It is Roy who invented their relationship so real, so enduring.

It could be a narrative imagined as The Princess Bride. A stable boy cast to the sea, returns as a pirate with a mask. A man with a quick sword, a prehensile mind and muscle to halt an ox. And yet, he aims not to steal any purse. Simply it is to unlatch the heart’s locket.

A kiss from The Princess Bride

A kiss from The Princess Bride. Image courtesy of The Vintage Honeybee.

We eat this love story generation after generation. Never tiring of plot twists. For the union is heaven-sent. It is contrast and closure.

Precisely the experience of housemade pastrami with desert wine. Not some factory made lunch meat. Or some cloying sugar wine.

We speak of divinity of deli from Pieous. Josh cooks rich brisket under smoke, low and slow. The moist cut tenderized to the point of crumbling.

And we speak of the heralded wine from Hungary, named Tokaj. It’s very name synonymous with gentry. It is a basket of flavors: almond and stone fruit.

Row of Tokaj decanted

Row of Tokaj decanted

Together they form a dialog on the palate. Yellow mustard to adding snap to crackle and pop. Sour and slightly hot. A necessary third dimension.

Yet, this interlude should not be a tumble of flavors all at once. First briny brisket painted with mustard. Maybe a bit of pickle. Then amberfied with a slight sip of Tokaj. Just enough to tip the scale from savory to sweet. A mental puzzle.

It brings us to the idea that meat can cross the divide from hearty main to the pillowy world of desert.

Doubt this dalliance? Consider the soy stickiness of Teriyaki. Japanese steak’s best friend. Or the pineapple glaze of ham. If we can pull cheesecake, so loaded with meaty umami into the pastry world, then why cannot we seesaw our way back.

What it takes is imagination and experimentation. A willing to take a chance. To unfurl the sails and leave the port.

Now you have been shown the portal. Will you walk through? Will you introduce a soprano to a coalman?

Will you create your own love story?

Create that kiss and then tell.

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