As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol this morning:
I was fooled by my son. We were sitting in a noodle bar on the outskirts of Tokyo where he lived for a couple of years. I asked what the sauce pot in the centre of the table contained. He made some general comment about how nice it was and encouraged me to try it.
It was full strength wasabi - not the relatively safe stuff we can get in a tube here from a supermarket, but the real deal. Think of a neat tea spoon of cayenne pepper and you'd get the idea. I had a sorbet for dessert but it didn't shift the flavour. My sinuses were long-cleared. My nasal passages dyno-rodded. The very memory of that meal helps me breathe more clearly in a Bristol winter. But two weeks in Japan was the trip of a lifetime and left me with many, more positive, food memories.
Our senses of taste and smell are great memory jerkers. A quick odour of something from our past and we are back there, immediately.
But we hear that some cannot eat. Food banks are the new normal in parts of our region. There is one in my relatively prosperous home town of Nailsea. It should put us to shame. I am proud that church members of all denominations have got together with the local community to help feed the hungry.
Not for nothing does the Bible suggest we 'taste and see that the Lord is good.' It puts you in touch with a very basic memory. The distant past of the stamp of a creator perhaps?
If you can't eat you can't taste. And if you can't taste you may miss the most important relationship of your life.