Food Flash

So I’m almost all caught up and refocused, so here’s one of the fiction pieces I owe you! In case you forgot, one of the pending writing prompts had to do with food…

I’d never known that I was different until I started a biology class in college where the professor had a particular fascination with synesthetes. You see, in this incredibly small portion of society, the senses are somehow linked together. Some people associate scents with particular words or colors even. That seems to be the most common, the words/letters with colors thing. At least, that’s what most of the literature seems to be about. It yaks on and on about all the famously talented people in the history of the world who were helped along by this slightly unfair advantage. I mean, when a composer sees colors associated with his music, he has an extra leg up because he can actually see if what he’s creating is beautiful, am I right? Maybe, who knows. Maybe I just want to believe that.

You see, I haven’t found anyone else like me in the literature yet and I’m hoping that this actually has some useful application rather than being the horrid nuisance that it has been for most of my life. For me, my sense of taste is directly linked to tactile sensations. And not just unilaterally, either, which seems to be unique unto me. When I eat, I feel things over my entire body and when I touch things, I taste them. Their texture and temperature seems to be the biggest factor for what I taste.

You ask what this means for me; let me give you an example. I have to buy 1500 thread count sheets because anything less leaves me awake all night long because every time I turn over I taste sulphur as the fabric scratches across my skin. I can’t eat anything minty in public because it stimulates…well…rather pleasant regions of my body. In fact, mint chocolate chip ice cream can send me right to an orgasm after a few bites.

I’ve broken up with people because the texture of their hands made me wretch and I’ve fallen in love with others because the taste they leave in my mouth is just so sweet. I hardly ever go to restaurants because hidden spices and herbs in my food can leave me itchy or feel like I’m burning.

I sat down to talk to my professor about all of this one day and ask for his advice in dealing with my problems. I was just so tired of not being able to function like any normal human being, shying away from touching anything when I’m out and spending outrageous amounts of money on clothing and furnishings just so I could live a comfortable life.

After his initial flurry of questions, most of which were fairly standard to determine whether someone was a true synesthete (I am, fyi) he asked me how I fed myself. We’d already been over the topic of restaurants, but we hadn’t talked all that much about what I did like in food. I started to tell him about the experiments I used to do when I was younger, combining different spices from my mother’s cabinet just to see how they would make me feel.

And then he asked whether I had ever consciously constructed a meal to evoke particular feelings. I hadn’t really thought about it until then, but that’s what I did on a daily basis. I knew certain combinations of foods made me feel good and didn’t set off any unpleasant sensations and I normally stuck to a fairly safe but boring standard fare. Pasta was good because it was a fairly neutral feeling, sort of this subdued warm glow. I could always rely on it when I’d had a bad day.

Then he asked, what if you started deliberately designing meals to make you feel a certain way, three course meals, five course meals that took me on a tactile journey, almost like making love to myself with the food. I joked I’d always end with mint chocolate chip ice cream and he laughed a bit uncomfortably. But seriously, he said, what if?

So I went home and thought about it for a while, tried a few combinations of flavors out, went shopping, and then sent out invitations to several friends and my professor to join me in a gustatory evening of trial and error. I had planned it all out…appetizers, salads, main course, dessert, and if my tactile senses didn’t steer me wrong, then this was going to instill feelings of warmth and soothing pleasure in all of my guests.

They arrived one at a time and I plied them with a wine I had matched to the meal, just to ensure they were a bit lubricated before introducing them to my cuisine. I’d never cooked for anyone else before, so I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I was going to get.

The appetizers left me with a fizzy sensation tingling up my fingers and no one had anything bad to say about my home-made tapanades and crackers, so I moved them on to the salad. It was Mediterranean inspired, but with a slightly different spice base since cilantro leaves me feeling like nails had just run down a chalkboard. For the main course I served fish done in honey and mint, but a more gentle orange-mint so as not to overstimulate myself. Instead, it just left me feeling primed and amorous. And I finished it all up with a fruit tart with fresh mango sorbet on the side that defuses my arousal and leaves me with a pleasant post-coital glow.

I leaned back, savoring the last of the wine in my glass and asked my friends what they thought, if they had any ideas or suggestions. Did they like it? To a one, they were quiet, but most of them were grinning happily, a few of the more reserved friends looked a little sheepish and confused. My professor raised his glass in a silent salute.

Eventually, they recovered themselves enough to make a bit of small talk as we were clearing the dishes and they slowly trickled out, leaving the professor and me to talk as I started the dishes. I floated the idea of transferring to a culinary institute but he just shook his head and instead offered the idea of molecular gastronomy, sticking with the hard sciences like physics and chemistry, mainly because he felt I’d already surpassed what most people learned at a culinary school. He wondered if I couldn’t take things to a whole new level and completely revolutionize the concepts of comfort food or a dinner date. Imagine, food that feels like a caress, a kiss, a mother’s soothing touch. What if I could replicate that for everyone, anytime?