Kitchen Mystic by Paulette Licitra

The Deconstruction by Karen Cantrell

Patisserie de Pakistan by Gregors Johnson

Meals of a Lifetime by Rebecca Keller

Ode to Risotto by Donald Newlove

Fully Committed by Doug Sovern

Biscuits and Gravy by William Blomstedt

Keeping It Tidy by Alan Linton

If I Knew You Were Coming by Alisha Lumea

On Your Only Day Off by Nicole Edwards

Bagpipes and Pan Fried Smelts by Ted Radakovic

Joseph Conrad’s Dark Linguini by Giovanni Berchtold

Missing Something by Jean-Luc Bouchard

We Love You, Mayonnaise! by Alona Martinez

Japanese Food by Esther Cohen

Raw Köfte by Hardy Griffin

Proust's Soup by Giovanni Berchtold

A Sacred Virgin by Paulette Licitra

on a friday evening by Keith Leidner

Ropa Vieja by Raul Palma

Deidre's Last Meal by Esther Cohen

Wired by Alan Linton

Chestnut by Katherine Gleason

The Moon is an Outdoor Sandwich by Patty Houston

Garlicky Greens by Lois Marie Harrod

First the Shell, Musical; Then the Custard, Irrevocable by Sarah Begley

Meals of Choice by Dorian Fox

A Low Table by Christian Aguiar

The Sylvian Fissure by Rosalie Loewen

Two Versions of Eating Potatoes by David Spiering

Conch Salad by Michele Ruby

Hopper by Michael Onofrey

Caution: Coffee is Hot by Gary Scott

The Fairy Part by Alberto Giuseppe

Foie Gras by Judith Edelman

Rosemary and Olive Oil by Gail Gauthier

Mario's Shoes by Natalie Parker-Lawrence

Cake by Marianne Villanueva

Retreat: October on Copper Mountain by M.E. Parker

The Sandwich Diaries by Angus Woodward

But There Was No Star Anise by Andrew Martell

Fruit Route by Susan King

The Sylvian Fissure

by Rosalie Loewen

August 2013    

In going through my files on the occasion of my retirement, I feel compelled to share a case that was highly interesting to me at the time and which involved a patient with a condition that I believe, after thorough review of the literature, to be unique.

My patient, R., despite having lived with an unusual set of symptoms for her entire adult life, sought professional therapy only following the death of her mother from a stroke. Her mother’s death awoke in R. the fear that her peculiar complaint was the manifestation of an underlying cerebral flaw that might prove fatal. She was referred to my office by her primary care physician.

R. explained to me, with some initial embarrassment, that beginning with her first sexual climax at the age of fourteen, she had experienced vivid gustatory hallucinations simultaneous with the moment of orgasm. As far as R. could tell, these experiences were not pseudohallucinatory: “the tastes come into my mouth, not my mind. In the moment, I am tasting, not thinking about tasting.“

Further questioning determined that the gustatory sense was completely isolated and there were no incidences during which olfactory hallucinations or tactile hallucinations were co-present.

I reviewed her medical records, which were otherwise normal, and ordered a complete brain scan, which revealed no abnormalities. R. had no signs or family history of epilepsy or any psychotic disorder. She was, at the time she sought my assistance, a married woman of 47 and mother to two adult children with a successful career in the management of non-profit corporations.

The tastes that R. experienced at the moment of orgasm were highly specific, somewhat complex, and generally associated with what she characterized as “sweets.” R. was certain that the strength of her hallucinations correlated with the intensity of the orgasm, but denied any conscious associations. There was nothing about her lovers, she maintained, that reminded her of the flavors that she experienced. Furthermore, and this concurs with my own assessment of her, she described herself as not being a particularly “creative” or “imaginative.” She was not, in my professional opinion, a person who would have the mental suppleness to make these instantaneous and highly specific connections over the entire course of her sexual life, from pubescence through adulthood.

R. affirmed she experienced the same phenomenon when she masturbated but noted that she masturbated infrequently and that the related flavors tended to be of a single note: i.e. banana, grape, or green apple, which she described as reminiscent of the intense but focused artificial flavorings used in candy.

Nor did R. have any other signs of oral fixations. She was, she said, not much a cook, she admitted to me that she had a repertoire of only some 20 recipes that she presented in rotation to her family. Despite the wide range of flavors she experienced as hallucinations, she almost never cooked or ate desserts.

I requested that R. draw up a catalog of the various tastes she had experienced. The list she came up with was extensive and included items as diverse as the following: -mint ice cream; -honeyed rose water; -commercial blueberry pie filling; -marzipan cookie; -marshmallow topping.

I then had R. cross-reference this list with the list of her lovers, of whom she had had five. Two of these were prior to her marriage. She noted that her first lover had not brought her to orgasm and was therefore not associated with any of the flavors. The second lover R. described as being a talented and uninhibited lover and she said that this produced a range of strong and complex tastes, like "salted caramel." However, she failed to remember these flavors with any great detail as her relationship had begun and ended over twenty years prior.

Her husband, with whom she had a diminished sexual relationship, was most frequently correlated with fruit-based flavors. As the heat in their relationship had ebbed, she noted that this was reflected in the flavors that accompanied their coitus: from raspberry coulis to baked apples.

She had had two lovers during her marriage. One she categorized as “a one night stand, concord grape sorbet” and the other was a longer term relationship with a friend of her husband’s that ended with the lover’s death from heart disease. She described their relationship as warm rather than passionate and the flavors which she experienced when they were able to find the time and privacy for a physical tryst were “of the supermarket variety, usually dough-based: store-bought birthday cake, frosted cinnamon buns.”

During her approximately six months of therapy, I uncovered no obvious physiological or psychological source for her hallucinations. In fact, I encouraged her to think of them as a synesthesia, a simple confusion of the senses, rather than as a symptom of any illness. Once I had ruled out any conditions that correlated with her initial fears regarding her future health, she was content to quit my care without having resolved her hallucinations as she found her situation not wholly unpleasant.


(Post Scriptum: the following is for personal use only, and should be excised from copies submitted for publication.)

Frequently during our therapeutic sessions I found myself aroused, as is not uncommon, even in a professional setting, when discussing in detail the act of intercourse with an attractive member of the opposite sex. Following her decision to terminate therapy, I accepted certain of her overtures and we embarked upon a relationship that naturally evolved into physical intimacy.

On the occasion of our first love making, I found myself experiencing a curious mixture of relief, gratification and disappointment when R. whispered into my ear, during the lull that followed, “banana cream pie.”

  Rosalie Loewen lives in rural Alaska with her husband and their two small daughters. In addition to writing, Rosalie makes wonderful preserves and jellies and is in the final stages of building a small commercial kitchen with her husband. For more of Rosalie's writing and more on her adventures in Alaska, she invites readers to visit her blog.

Photo used under Creative Commons.