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Taste - Exploring Your Writing Through Your Senses

Food, glorious food, we can’t escape it. The taste, the texture, the way sugar dissolves on the tongue. How salt brings out the flavor in our meals. Food thrills us. It can torment us with desire. I don’t know many of us who successfully live without food. Without it, we die. Food represents who we are.

Taste. A good meal shared with friends is a sublime pleasure. We live in the best of times because we can taste so many things. A neighborhood is a feast of tactile delights. The Korean store is next to the Turkish market and across the boulevard from a string of Restaurants that include Thai, Dominican, Mexican, Romanian, and a McDonald’s just across from a Subway franchise. There is a taste of delight for everyone. I am happy to live in a place where I can sample a variety of foods and all the intricacies of taste.

Gourmet magazine used to publish an anthology of food-related stories. Food was the central character. Taste is paramount in each story. The driving forces are the sensuality, the texture, the pleasure of food. Taste is an early primal memory. Taste ties much of our memory to it; our mother’s milk or the bottle that gave us that first visceral sensation that we live with all our lives.

In the book, Like Water for Chocolate, the principal character took food to a new level when her emotions embodied the food she cooked. Her pain or pleasure translated into the food. If you ate her dishes, you embody that emotion. There is magic connected to food, to the earth, and to the history of recipes passed down through the generations. The family history was told through these recipes. Each bite, each taste was like eating history, full of all the emotions of the stories that wrapped around each meal.

Taste stimulates wonderful things. Our lives revolve around the memory of how things taste. The smell of apple pie can bring us back to a time when we were happy, or it can remind us of what we have missed. These memories inform our creativity. Art reflects our need for food. Luscious fruits spill from paintings. Movies are full of scenes of eating. They devote an entire TV network to just food!

We can’t get away from it. Food, the taste of it, and our memories continue to feed our creativity.

Creative Writing Prompts: Taste

• Name a favorite food from your childhood, teenage, and young adult years, and where you are now. It could be the same food or a portion of fresh food for each period. What made that a favorite food? What are the memories associated with it? As an example, I have a fondness for French fries. I am reminded of the ones my father would bring home. They were slightly soggy, salty, and wrapped in brown paper. These fries were a special treat we loved to eat.

• Culinary reading — Find some food-related poems, stories, or books. What appeals to you about them? What scared or amazed you?

• Taste is Sweet — The book Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write has some wonderful writing exercises centered on food. If you have a chance pick it up and give it a try.

• Pick some food of different tastes and textures. Feel it, touch it, smell it, and taste it. See the food as if for the very first time. Write your impressions. Write a poem of a short story around the food item or items you have selected.

• Remember, that taste is a sense that can inspire us. We have the unique advantage to experience it most of the time. Explore it and let food be your muse.

Photo by Spencer Davis 

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