Flavor Town USA: Tyler Dillow
Cherry Rum Flavor
Deep red cherries in a bowl—I pit them, half them, soak them in rum. These are for later. Small treats take time. Even if only a little. When I make this, I think of countries stuck. Held in time. Always remembered for what they were and this is fine.
Pour the cherry-infused rum over a lemon cake. Indulge. Eat with a fork or spoon.
When I get to the Farmer’s house, I gift him this. He thanks me and eats a slice. It is all so simple. There isn’t much to look at here. Dairy cows wander the green fields before they make it to the barn. They milk them, they separate the cream. His son carries pails back and forth. The day moves on.
This is beautiful. To think of tulips in bloom in the garden of a manor. How turmeric toppled economies and made the rich richer. All tangible.
I begin to understand how the cherries grow and how sugar fermented becomes so good. Good enough to ruin fortunes. Destroy families and friends, but how sugar brings them all together.
Unites them—I eat the rum cherries.
This is a dessert to be shared. A drink to pass around a small room. An indulgence. Enjoy it with me.
The tall grass blows in the wind. I see it happen through the window of the farmhouse. A cow walks into the sun and stops. She is waiting. Waiting until the clouds come. The farmer looks at me. He wears a tan linen shirt and blue jeans. His sunhat hangs on a hook by the door. His wife is not home today. She is with the other women. Quilting or doing things a Farmer’s wife is supposed to do. Just like the Farmer does what he is supposed to do. I am a guest to this all. An onlooker. Both familiar and foreign. He waves me to come closer. I lean in and he says, “Can you take what I have to offer?” This isn’t what his wife would want, but I let him continue.
“My son. He is good at this work and he works hard at it and I love him for it. But I see him at night, when no one else sees him. His eyes are far off. They are up in the stars. In the stars, if you can believe that. He is not meant to spend his whole life here.”
My eyes connect with the Farmer. He is a younger man.
“There is a big world out there. I want him to see it. I need him to see it, so when he returns with a family of his own there will be no hurting when he says goodbye. This is what I have to offer.”
I offer a slice to the son.
The rest of the cake and rum and cherries sit on the kitchen table.
Tyler Dillow lives in Seattle. Other work by him can be found in X-R-A-Y, Hobart, and SVJ Lit.
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