By The Landlord
What is flavour? It's an experience. A flavour is a flash in the brain, a sensation, funnelled through two or more senses. It is a cognitive lick and whiff that sparks like a eureka moment, a memory, a realisation, just as when a word hits just the right spot, or of course, when you hear a great song. Flavours can be pure and single, or in combination, a mixture of elements, an infusion, like a combination of notes (wines even), chords or instruments. And like sound, it can be created naturally or artificially. But first before getting into the nitty gritty, let's take a visit to the Two Ronnies for a short selection of what flavours might be on offer. RIP Mr Corbett, another of this year's sad losses, now hopefully rejoining his old old friend, the genius Mr Barker, in the great pub or parlour in the sky.
A bit like the main instruments of any band, there are there are five universally recognised basic tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and the specific Japanese savoury flavour of umami. But of course the world is far more interesting and complex than that, because these basic types, and the many acids and all their hybrids that create them, have a wealth of uses and associations. So what might you think of when encountering something, for starters,that is described as vanilla, bark, tart, metallic, lemon peppery, garlic salty, berry or malty? And is there a musical equivalent of the Mexican chocolate and chicken dish? Meanwhile here's something that might NOT count this week.
Mr Ice aside, It's clearly going to be a tasty week. Advieh to beberre, nutmeg to majoram, pumpkin to panch phoron, vadouvan to za'atar, it's open-sesame season for suggest any spices or combinations thereof mentioned in songs. And when we talk of flavours, whether it’s aniseed to bay, cardamon to cinnamon, truffle or tarragon, don’t forget also serve up the flavours of drinks. While drinking in general and coffee has been touched on in a previous topic in the past, feel free to leaf through an entire world of tea and other beverages with a flavour. A cup of brown joy (and other colours) is one type of many available from Earth's entire urn:
So while week's topic is largely title- and lyric-based, and in which flavours may be mentioned in any form or combination, it is different to previous topics such as songs about food or drinking, because flavours are more specifically about the experience of tasting them, so song nominations may be more about the perception than the object itself.
Flavour also covers a different and bigger area than simply songs about smells, because flavour is really combined experience of the palate in the mouth and aroma in the nose. So now for the science bit. Unlike the olfactory experience from inhalation, the sensing of flavours in the mouth happens, rather interestingly, only when you exhale. And even more flavoursome is the fact that this can be perceived differently by an individual and at different times, when the food or drink is in front of you, in the mouth, or triggered in your memory. Context is always key.
Can flavours be used as metaphor? Perhaps if it is strong or specific enough or, for example, is ”sweet” a bit vague? You, and this week's guru, can decide. As an aside, whether you're a cook, a musician, writer, painter or any other person who works with combinations, flavours are also an excellent source for creativity in description. As a way to flex the imagination for writing, I sometimes try to think of characters, real or fictional, as flavours. What flavour is Elvis Presley, for example? A supremely smooth caramel-coated ball of molten molasses covered with leathery layer of salty liquorice? Meanwhile what flavour would you describe Public Enemy's Flavor Flav? In taste and smell terms, I'd describe him as a mix of marshmallow bubblegum with a salty, spicy kick with a dollop of some crystal and homegrown herbs.
By coincidence, I note that a well-known mass-produced food brand have recently launched an advertising campaign with the perhaps not altogether catchy phrase #loveatfirsttaste, in which they match flavours to good-looking people in a blindfold dating context. It might well boost sales of their crumbly cubes and other products, or are they simply trying to put the phoarr! into Knorr? Delicious. For that mention, donations to The Song Bar would be very welcome, Unilever ...
So what flavour combination would you be? This could go on and on... In the meantime, suggest your spicy, salty, seasoned, sweet or otherwise songs in comments below in time for last orders late on Monday. This week's guru of the best possible taste is the sensational and very seasoned song-selector severin, who will sift through your flavours to make a feast of listening in time for next Wednesday. Mmm. Tasty.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist of songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.