Too Sweet

Food for Thought

Nigel wanted to go eat sukiyaki, but there aren’t many Japanese restaurants offering it, so I told him I can cook it for him. One odd thing about sukiyaki is that you need to use a lot of sugar. In fact, Kansai style of sukiyaki calls for constantly sprinkling sugar on top of the beef. Since Nigel is always complaining about things being “too sweet,” I opted for Kanto style in which you mix the sugar into the sauce in advance.

Sweetness is one of the elementary sensations of taste, like primary colors from which other colors are made up. Children love cotton candy, which is pure sugar. There is nothing wrong with eating it. The problem is that, for adults, it’s boring. We need more complexity and depth.

We also need to differentiate “too much sweet” from something being too sweet. The former happens if you consume too much sugar in one sitting.

When people say something is “too sweet,” they often mean it’s too boring. That is, they can only taste sweetness, nothing else. If other flavors are just as strong as the sweetness, they won’t find it “too sweet.” Something actually being too sweet is a rare problem where it has other great flavors but added too much sugar.

In “too sweet,” the sweetness is what we notice, but the problem is elsewhere. The sweetness is only a symptom, not the cause.

Here, let me quote a German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: “The bud disappears in the bursting-forth of the blossom, and one might say that the former is refuted by the latter; similarly, when the fruit appears, the blossom is shown up in its turn as a false manifestation of the plant, and the fruit now emerges as the truth of it instead.” In short, whatever is the loudest is always seen as the true cause.

This problem is seen everywhere. For instance, in Trump, we see all sorts of excesses like money, women, power, fame, etc.. It’s tempting to think of him as the cause of America’s problem, but getting rid of him can’t save America any more than eliminating sugar can save Twinkies. He is not the problem; it is the very fact that someone like him can become the president is.