Some flavors are not intended to ever be combined. Years ago, some friends who knew I loved chocolate and despised mushrooms found the perfect gift for me. Chocolates shaped like mushrooms.
There was only one small problem. The chocolates were actually mushroom-flavored. Imagine a chocolate bar melted into a can of cream of mushroom soup, and you get the idea.
Even people like my wife who love both distinct tastes, couldn’t stomach the blend.
Well, a new product has entered the market and it immediately reminded me of that unsavory fiasco.
A company in Hawaii has capitalized on merging two very flavors that are popular in many locales but just sound a wee bit incompatible. They have taken the delectable taste and gentle crunch of macadamia nuts and accented them with the aromatic zest of spam.
That’s right. Spam-flavored macadamia nuts. They sound irresistible, don’t they?
Probably not. But then, most readers of Mere Inkling aren’t in the target audience of Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company. The fact is—and those of us who’ve experienced the joy of living in the Pacific and Micronesia know this well—there are vast numbers of people who absolutely love spam.
I actually don’t have an objection to either of these products . . . individually. Spam casserole was a staple in the home of my youth, and I can eat it with pleasure today. Macadamias still seem a bit exotic and shipping costs make them a bit pricier than most of their competition, but they taste great.
Two wonderful flavors. Logic tells us that if they are both good alone, they’ll be even better together!
But some things were never meant to be combined.
Then again, some different qualities are magnificent when they are brought together. This is especially true when it comes to the art of writing.
Evelyn Underhill, a gifted author in her own right, composed a letter to C.S. Lewis in 1938 praising him for his recently released Out of the Silent Planet.
It is so seldom that one comes across a writer of sufficient imaginative power to give one a new slant on reality: & this is just what you seem to me to have achieved. And what is more, you have not done it in a solemn & oppressive way but with a delightful combination of beauty, humour & deep seriousness. I enjoyed every bit of it, in spite of starting with a decided prejudice against “voyages to Mars.”
“Beauty, humor, and deep seriousness . . .” Traits those of us who love Lewis’ work have come to expect. In great quantity. And we are not disappointed.
Good writing can excel in a single dimension. Great writing, it seems to me, earns that appellation by weaving together a variety of strong “flavors.”
It’s like comparing a superb violin solo to a flawless symphony. Part of the wonder of the latter is the skill with which each disparate element combines into a glorious whole.
Or, returning to the culinary realm with which we began, powerful writing properly combines distinct flavors that complement one another . . . such as chocolate and peanut butter, or spam and . . . Well, I trust I’ve made my point.