I was regaling Mr. Pinault with a story about an acquaintance. The story is not worth repeating in its entirety, except to say that it involved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. “You know what a peanut butter cup is, yes?” I asked Mr. Pinault, who shrugged. “Omigod, you don’t know what a peanut butter cup is!” Floored, I stopped telling my mundane story in order to meticulously elucidate the structure and usage of the peanut butter cup. Form follows function, deliciously.
Moments like these, when I realize that my foreign-born soulmate and I have completely different frame of references through which we view the world, are not uncommon. I can live with his utter ignorance about Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, This is Spinal Tap, The Facts of Life, Alf, early 90s Saturday Night Live characters, the board game Clue, Slip ‘N Slides, and Reagan-era politics. But peanut butter cups? To have never run your tongue along the crimped edges of the cup before nibbling the disk of milk chocolate and having an explosion of salty, sweet, and savory rock your tastebuds in perfect flavor harmony?
When Mr. Pinault hears the words “peanut butter,” he reacts in typical continental European fashion: He grimaces and grips his stomach, as if the mere thought of peanut butter reeks havoc on his refined digestive system. I believe he tried peanut butter once and didn’t like the taste nor how it stuck to the insides of his mouth. I can picture him, totally defenseless against the sticky peanut paste clinging to his gums, as helpless as a kitten with a strip of duct tape across its back.
My national pride reared as I watched him go through these motions. I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter myself, but years as a pennywise vegetarian has bestowed a certain respect for the humble, nutritive, Earth-friendly stuff. “So, you find peanut butter to be hard on your stomach, but triple creme 75% fat cheese is just fine. Nutella is perfectly normal food. And spreadable meat paste made out of animal liver is just delightful. But a butter made of out ground peanuts? How revolting.”
I bought a package of Newman’s Own Organics Peanut Butter Cups, intent on inducting my husband into the cult of the peanut butter cup. He found them tasty enough, but the moment was not overwhelmed by any great outpouring of enthusiasm. In fact, as I bit into my peanut butter cup, I realized that it wasn’t really as great as I had been blabbering about. Perhaps a romanticism has been manufactured by fond childhood memories and stealthy television advertising. It’s chocolate and peanut butter, after all. It’s just candy.