I have discovered that I have a form of synesthesia where I taste in colour. Savoury things taste green; sweet things taste blue, purple or pink; sour things taste pale blue or yellow; salty things taste brown or orange; bitter things taste red or shocking pink.
This is a very simplified list of how things taste to me, but it is a lot more complicated, in the same way that the flavours of food are more than just those 5 flavours; the colours in my head when I eat certain foods are a lot more varied.
When I lived in the UK, I discovered Thai food, and with it a really excellent Thai restaurant in Ely of all places. I love to try food I have never tried before, and so we went along and I ordered Tom Yam Gai – hot and sour chicken soup.
Oh. My. God.
This food did something to my taste receptors. It was spicy, sour and fragrant. It was refreshing and juicy and fresh and rich all at the same time, and as for the colours, well. I had rainbows in my head. The warm autumnal browns of galingal pinpointed with neon orange chili; the deep green chicken broth laced with turquoise lemon grass flavours; all surrounded in the fresh coriander taste which makes me think of blindingly blue summer skies viewed from the middle of a green meadow.
I was addicted. I ate it at every possible opportunity.
When we moved overseas we went out for Thai food a couple of times, and I got my fix of Tom Yam soups, but with children and the move to a place 20km from the nearest town I have had to miss out on my favourite food. Imagine my amazement when I was looking at cup soups in the supermarket when I found this:
I took it home, eager to try it out, but preparing myself for it to be a pale imitation of real Tom Yum soup (Tom Yam or Tom Yum, I’m not sure which is correct, so I’ll use both).
I boiled the kettle and poured the packet of precious dust into my cup, not daring to hope. As the scalding water hit the dry mixture, and the smell rose from the mug I was transported to the meadow with the summer sky high above me. I took a tentative sip and saw the warm earthy browns of galingal and the turquoise-green sea of the lemon grass. The chili was there, but not so strong, more of a warm sunshine glow than neon flashes, but for a cuppa soup, it was pretty damn good.
Shame there are only 2 serves in a packet though, I might have to write in and demand that they make packets of 14 so I can survive the fortnight between shopping trips.