Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Taste

Like smell, taste conjures up memory. Read Marcel Proust. His descriptions are evocative.
He gives us a taste of a tea cake made in a remote village. "With the first taste, the village rose up like a stage set” in his mind. See the mixing of Visual+gustatory. He borrows qualities from other senses.

 Proust says about 'Madelaines', tea cakes,  From the sense of sight he borrows colour and shape "squat and plump" shaped like "the fluted valve of a scallop shell", "which is  richly sensual under its severe, religious fold". From the sense of smell he borrows “a decoction of lime blossom.” And borrowing from the sense of touch to describe the madelines soaked in tea, he writes that when “ the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate…a shudder ran through me.” If the madelines had been crunchy Proust might have included their crispy snap; had they been spicy, he might have described the degree of heat or discomfort the spiciness might induced, perhaps a tingling sensation at the edges of his lips.

Another of Proust’s techniques is to set the scene in which the cakes were consumed,  a childhood scene the narrator is recounting. Memory mixed with the present taste makes it more appealing. So the next time you go to a sea side restaurant and have food, can you say "it tastes of the ocean?"


aswathy said...

sir,please write about synesthesia.

pooja said...

The first time my desire to meet a 'real,live writer' was born was when as a young child i read Enid Blyton's descriptions about food.

I still can taste the'buttered croissant' crumble in my mouth as i bite into it though i have no clue (even today)what they are.