By William Markiewicz

I’ve written about this topic previously. Now it comes to mind with a little twist.

There is a list of things I like but which have disappeared. The list could be longer if I remembered everything.

One of my preferred spots was Normandy with its cider. There was so much and it was so varied that it seemed eternal. Cider of every colour, alcohol content, sparkly, flat, sweet and dry. It was a poem just looking at the countless barrels resting in cool, dark cellars. Returning once for a cider ‘pilgrimage’, I discovered that it was all gone. For strange reasons, the government ordered millions of apple and pear trees to be cut down. Apparently nobody paid attention. The experts disappeared and the rest drink beer, brandy, or whatever. One sunshine less for me.

The same concerning garnacha in Catalonia. For me it was a poem. You raise the porron high above your head and let the liquid pour into your throat. The natives and tourists enjoyed it. It was exotic, strange looking and delicious. One year I came to Spain for my garnacha ‘pilgrimage‘ and, it was gone. Some little bottles full of chemicals, no doubt for conservation, replaced it. I would never drink it again.

In the Polish neighbourhood of Toronto, I enjoyed the Polish marinated pickles, pickled in natural water and herbs. Suddenly one day, everything changed. It seems to me that the producers added vinegar which completely killed the taste and the natural fermentation process. Why did they do it? Maybe because people like it better, more acid. Or maybe because it was faster and cheaper to produce. The pickles that were an important part of my menu have disappeared for me.

Polish herring with little salt content, so that you can eat it right away, full of eggs (female) and milk (male) were suddenly not available: heads and tails cut away and the empty body with open belly floated in the water. You have only the fillet of herring. It reminds me of one time years ago in Quebec when the fishermen on the coast cut only the outside fillet and threw the rich inside back to the sea for the birds and the fish. What was their reasoning? Hadn’t they learned what was the best or was it just not worth the trouble?

I enjoyed Polish sliced meats and famous kielbasas. I believe that technology has entered even there, to limit the working time perhaps. I found it hard. Hard to eat and less tasty. Again it has disappeared from my menu.

Old fashioned ham, with all the juice, fat and flavour, is hard to get. For me, everything has become more industrialized and in my view people don’t pay attention.

In my childhood I remember bananas, mature in the market, full of dark brown grains, like poppy seeds, in the center. They gave a specific sound when I bit into them and there was a special nut like taste. Now you get ‘seedless’ bananas. For me, it’s more like butter than fruit.

Now the seedless fruits abound. The specific taste given by seeds is gone. Now the taste is more uniform, boring for me, but people don’t know better. They take it.

I read some documentation, over a hundred years old, about coffee. The first coffee was delicious but vulnerable to parasites, I’m not sure of the name. Only the more ordinary and robust coffees resisted but they were less good. I read a comment in the same document: “The producer has decided they will get worse and cheaper coffee and the public will never know it.” And this is what happened. The most luxurious coffee today won’t have the slightest similarity to the divine taste of disappeared coffee.

Most of the good wines have lost a great part of their goodness because, for economy, speed, etc., they are loaded with fertilizers, antiseptics. The good grape likes to suffer fighting against the poverty of soil, poverty of water, excess of sun and excess of cold. The cautious producer makes them as productive as possible, adding all those ingredients. Wine is cheaper and, by today’s criteria, not bad at all. Again, who will remember the divine taste of old wines?

Greed replaces quality. Greed may lose the future of humanity. With my eyes opened by science fiction I can see the androids, male and female, much superior to the performance, etc. of Homo Sapiens. Some prophetic science fiction story, I don’t remember the title, described a planet where animals in the shape of beautiful women thrive. The interplanetary merchants made a zoo on earth with this merchandise, especially because the creatures, even if they knew nothing about sex, had all the sexual organs to satisfy men and, besides, were of sweet character. The story ends tragically. Those poor creatures brought with them a mortal alien sickness so they were destroyed. The story has a touching ending when the man who fell in love with his property killed the creature and himself.

With technology coming forward, we will create a perfect android. I can imagine the futuristic scene. The teenage daughter says to her mother, “Mama, I want a man.” And the mother answers, “Don’t be silly my darling, I will buy you the most expensive model from the Machos and Barbie Corporation, ltd.”

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