Savoring Flavors: A Welcoming Toast to Atheism Plus

This is a post by guest blogger Ellen Bulger.

One of the interesting things about being an aging human is how our flavor preferences can change. Senses are dull a bit, which is a bummer. But no dark cloud is without some silver lining. With muted taste buds some previously overwhelming foods become, as Ms. Goldilocks would put it, just right.

I’ve always craved bitter greens. Cooked or raw, you can’t feed me too much arugula. But until recently I’ve never been fond of bitter and sweet combinations in confections unless there was also an acid component.

Then I started drinking Sanbittèr, a non-alcoholic Campari made by Pellegrino. It came in tiny bottles, a serving size that even Michael Bloomberg would endorse. What’s more, the vivid red color of the stuff was like a stop sign in a glass. It provided such heavy sensory input that you didn’t require much at all. Drinking it was a crazy little contradictory ride. I loved it.

Inside the Carton of Red © Ellen Bulger

Despite the most adorable packaging in the world, Sanbittèr wasn’t popular in the states. It was less popular, even, than Marmite (another of my middle-aged flavor kicks). I had to go to Italian-import specialty stores to find Sanbittèr. Then not long ago, it vanished off the shelves. I couldn’t get my fun little treat any more.

At the same time, the parent company extended their successful Limonata line with grapefruit and blood orange sodas. Most domestic soda is all high-fructose corn syrup  and artificial flavoring. But get this, those crazy Italians use sugar and actual fruit!

Bitters Bottle Base © Ellen Bulger

But the swap of Sanbittèr for Aranciata Rossa echoes marketing trends where only best sellers are marketed. Harry Potter and Batman and pasty pouty vampires are available at every chain pharmacy and big box outlet. And you know there are a lot of people who don’t care fuck all about wizards or comic book crime fighters or teeny-bopper bloodsuckers. But because their interests are diverse, they become invisible to the marketers as there’s no one big homogenized target to hit. I want to take a stand at the grocery store and rip out the invasive Oreo-branded products that are expanding down the cookie aisle like the baked goods version of Phragmites grass. Screw it. I’ll bake my own cookies.

Empty Soldiers in the Morning © Ellen Bulger

In brick and mortar retail, try to find a copy of “Schizopolis” or, oh, anything by Fellini. And yes, we can find just about anything via internet. But you can’t Google something if you can’t even imagine it exists. It is a struggle to maintain the public memory of the possibilities of offbeat, bittersweet alternatives. No, no, no say I! I won’t drink the cultural Kool-aid. If you don’t have what I want, I’ll find it elsewhere, I’ll make it myself. And I might just team up with other people who crave Persian mint yogurt soda or homemade sumac syrup with seltzer. If I sit and sip shandy with these people, I’ll get insights about soda pop that Coke drinkers would never imagine.

So too with Atheism Plus. Diversity can be challenging and stressful. But those who resist it don’t realize how much they stand to gain by embracing it. It’s interesting. It’s exciting. It’s delicious.

And at the end of the day, we’re all thirsty.

Savoring Flavors: A Welcoming Toast to Atheism Plus