Let us stipulate, as gentlemen and gentlewomen, that food can generally be divided into two separate and distinct categories: Sweet foods, and Salty (or Savory) foods. Accepting momentarily this fundamental bifurcation, we turn our attention, as we do so often, to nuts. Nuts. Are they a salty food, or a sweet food? The answer is not so simple.
Allow us now to briefly expand upon the Salty (or Savory) vs. Sweet divide. "Hey, nuts have salt on them, therefore they're salty," you might say. "Hey, I don't know, what about rice, it's pretty bland, I don't think it's salty or sweet." You're missing the whole point. We are talking about the spirit of the food. Is it the savory kind of food, or the sweet kind of food? For example, vegetables are salty; fruit is sweet. Meat is salty; juice is sweet. Pasta and rice are salty; cereal is sweet. Olive oil is salty; agave is sweet. Cheese is salty; dessert is sweet.
"Well, gee, pasta is not really salty..." STOP RIGHT THERE. The spirit of the food, remember? Science tells us that there are five basic tastes, all of which are really either salty/ savory or sweet: saltiness (salty), sweetness (sweet), bitterness (depends on if also sweet), sourness (depends on if also salty), and umami (nobody knows what this is). When you think of it this way, it is not so hard to discern whether a food is fundamentally salty or sweet. Potatoes are salty. Oatmeal is sweet. You wanna put butter and salt on potatoes. You wanna put brown sugar on oatmeal. An honest appraisal of most foods will rapidly reveal their inclination one way or another, to an honest observer.
But—but. Nuts. Plain nuts on their own are not really salty/ savory or sweet. Do you want to put salt on nuts? Sure. But you also want to put sugar on nuts. I propose that nuts are the Singularity Food, the food that poses the greatest single challenge to the Salty and Sweet food division. Imagine pure, unadulterated peanut butter. You put it on bread with jelly. It goes in pie. It is a key ingredient in Reese's Pieces. It clearly has many pro-sweet factors. And it is composed of nothing but ground-up nuts. And yet, there is the omnipresent tug of common sense telling you that nuts are snack food, like chips or pretzels or CornNuts(!), all of which are clearly salty foods. Are nuts more salty, or more sweet? Those able to lay aside their cynicism and prejudices may find this to be more akin to a zen koan than to a simple question of taste.
I've been thinking about this for years so if you know the answer please tell me.
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