Saturday, June 02, 2018

Salty physics

She took the pinch of salt in her tiny palms. It was an uncharacteristic yellow because of the crushed turmeric, and dotted with red by ground-up chilli flakes. A proximal grown-up instructed her how to enjoy the salt - to dab a bit on a fingertip of the opposite hand, and lick it off that.

She had a go, as instructed. The first dab got very little on her dry fingertip. She still went ahead with the lick. A wet finger emerged from her mouth, post-lick, which was then used for another dab. This time a nice coat of salt enveloped her fingertip. Second dabs are the best. Her finger headed back for her tongue.

The sensation - of a salt-coated fingertip on the tongue - was a new one for her. Her mouth felt disrupted, a tiny shock from salt. Her tastebuds jumped from the ingredients in the mix. The chilli flakes, in particular, came off as too hot to handle.

In the little time she'd spent observing her world, she'd learnt that any hot sensations from food imply a hot food, and the best way to fix the hotness of the food, to have it turn into manageable warmness, was to blow at the food. Her mum would do that when feeding her in morsels - phoo, phoo, deliver... phoo, phoo, another one.

She blew, too. A determined puff on the palm -  phoo! The salt disappeared.

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