A Question of Taste

Main Piece: All of my dad’s family until him were medical doctors. And so when my grandfather became a doctor it was a big deal. He was continuing a long family tradition. And so my grandfather and great-grandfather went together to his first medical conference and for dinner they went to a really nice restaurant to celebrate. And as a treat, my great-grandfather ordered two glasses of Chateau D’Yquem which is one of the best white wines. And the waiter comes over with two glasses and my great-grandfather gives it a taste and he asks the waiter to get the sommelier. “Is there a problem?” asks the waiter. “Just please bring over the sommelier,” says my great-grandfather. The sommelier comes over and asks my grandfather if there’s a problem. To which my great-grandfather responds that the wine they have been served is not a Chateau D’Yquem. The sommelier stammers and says, “Monsieur. I assure you.” My great-grandfather reassures him and says, “It’s a very good wine but it is not a D’Yquem. Please. Go check the bottle.” The sommelier goes away and comes back and says, “Monsieur, you have an exceptional palate. This is a superb wine. In fact, it is from the next valley over to the Chateau D’Yquem but it is not the D’Yquem.” To which my great-grandfather replies, “Une femme a deux trous. Une à côté de l’autre mais quelle difference de goût.” Which means “a woman has two holes. One right next to the other but what a difference in taste.”

Background Information: This piece was performed by Hunter Maats who learned it from his father. His dad loves this story because he finds it amazing that in the first half of the 20th Century there could be so few vintages that a doctor could distinguish between two virtually identical wines. Hunter loves this story because it’s amazing to him that his great-grandfather felt comfortable saying that line in one of the best restaurants in Paris. That would never happen today. Hunter says the Dutch are either crude or much more comfortable talking about sex depending on your point of view. As Hunter says, “I’ve always wondered how the waiter reacted. Was he appalled? Or was this a time when men talked about sex freely with other men? Hard to know. Anyway, it’s a family favorite.”

Context of the Performance: The story was performed in person in the kitchen of my dad’s house.

My Thoughts on the Piece: I definitely see what Hunter means about their being a difference in culture between the Dutch and other Westerners. I can’t imagine anyone in my family telling that story.