My friend Allison is obsessed with The Last Taste.
Out at a restaurant, sitting on a deck, over at a friend’s for a potluck, it doesn’t matter. “No meal should end with anything less than the best taste possible,” she’ll say, while devouring the pink and juicy inner-cube of steak she’s saved on her plate during the entire meal. “It’s not worth the risk.”
I admit at first I found it odd, but over time began to admire her strong-willed ability to resist further nibbling. Me, I typically capped off a slice of fancy cheesecake with a bite of a cold, tough dinner roll from an hour ago without even thinking about it.
But not Allison.
No, she doesn’t mask the last bit of Big Mac with the stray ribbons of sauce-smeared lettuce lying in the box. She doesn’t chase the sticky brownie paste in her molars with a glass of watery skim milk. And if we’re dining out in style, she won’t taste-test anyone’s dinner after she finished her own. “There’s no way that’s better than my ravioli,” she’ll say, shrugging. “I want to keep tasting ravioli.”
So keep tasting ravioli she does. Because that’s what Last Tasters do, people. They find a taste they like and they stick with it.
Now, Allison isn’t the only Last Taster out there. Stop for a second and look at yourself, just look at yourself. What are you, lying in bed, sitting at a desk, reading on the couch? And are you nodding along? Sure, there are plenty of you even if you don’t wear buttons or meet in chat rooms. Basically, if you make sure there’s always a perfect crust of toast left for that last smear of egg yolk, you’re one of them.
But don’t worry because it’s a good thing.
Yes, that kind of Eat Planning is something worth respecting and something worth believing in. You come, you chomp, you go home happy, your mouth slowly savoring those final fleeting fumes of that last bite of deliciosity.
Nothing wrong with that.
But sadly, even for those in the biz, it’s not all sunshine and sweetness out there. No, there are some foods that can trip up the best of the Last Tasters. There’s the plain nacho at the bottom of the cheesy salsa tower, the meatless bread at the back of the sandwich, and perhaps most dreaded of all: the hollow cardboard bite at the bottom of the ice cream cone.
Oh I know the ice cream looks innocent at first: a couple ice-steaming scoops sitting pretty atop a sugar-sweet cone. What’s not to love?
And maybe when you start eating everything seems to be smooth sailing. That napkin-clad cone lands in your hand and you start giving it a few light licks, not wanting an overly-aggressive tongue to topple the tower on the sidewalk. Once your scoop settles into the cone’s lippy grooves, you tend to get a bit more pushy. Broad, sweeping swirls do laps and sometimes you even punch in with a big bite or a lip-smearing kiss. Maybe it’s hot and you’re dripping so there’s no time for small talk because you’re just spinning that cone like a corncob.
Sitting on a picnic table by the dorms, watching the sun dip at the cottage, camping in the backyard with the grandkids, you lose your sense of time and just keep licking, licking, licking some more.
It tastes so good so you hit the top of the cone and fly by, passing the point where your ice cream creates a perfectly flat tongue-smeared strawberry-flavored land, bordered on all sides by soggy foam cone. Soon you take your first cone-and-ice-cream bite and relish those new sensations of sweet with bland, smooth with crunch, and cold with warm. Frozen, creamy nirvana makes you woozy and lowers your defenses until you’re almost done and it finally hits you like a hammer: Brother, you’re not going to make it.
Shocked, you stare down at the cone in your hand and notice it’s feeling a bit light. There’s more ice cream in there but not much, and you have a funny feeling those last few bites of cone are going to be hollow and tasteless if you don’t do something about it. So you weigh your two options:
1. The Vacuum. Knowing you’re almost out of time, some people decide to cut their losses form a perfect O with their mouth to speed-suck the remaining creamy plunder from the cone. This way you end up with a solid 100% ice cream finish and ditch the cone in the trash.
2. The Pusher. Here your tongue gets in the game and pushes the ice cream down and down deeper into the cone. You’re not giving up, you’re not sacrificing, you just making sure you end up with a great final taste. The earlier you perform The Pusher, the better for everyone involved.
Now it’s a tough choice, but I recommend you go for The Pusher. Don’t give up because the benefits really are worth it. I mean, it’s a great last taste when you’re holding that tiny little goblet of bubbly, melted ice cream and can just toss it back for a tasty cool and creamery finish. Instead of having empty and brittle cardboard fouling up your mouth, you score a soft and sugary delight.
People of the world, let’s face it: if you ace this move you are a true dairy queen.
Thank you for 1,000,000 views on our TED Talk!
I’ll be speaking at the University of Waterloo on Friday night. Come by if you’re close! (You don’t gotta go to school there.)
Photos from: here, here, here, and here