Cover Image: Taste

Taste

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Member Reviews

I'm often a little wary of non-fiction books written by poets (just me?), but I have to say, Taste by poet Jehanne Dubrow was a delight. The book is a love letter of delicious anecdotes, memories and musings on various aspects of taste, tasting, food and existence. Her language is inviting and the stories just the perfect length. I'll have to admit, I didn't resonate with all of them, but the way the book is organized, I could easily skip one, move to the next and still feel satisfied - like the very best kind of buffet.

I very much enjoyed this and am grateful to NetGalley and Columbia University Press for the opportunity to read it. Definitely recommend to folks who are fans of food writing, poetry, light memoir or meaty language.

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This book makes one introspective: What experiences of mine give the same emotions that the author describes? How do I feel about sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami tastes? Do I have experiences I would categorize in one OR MORE of these? Why those and how does it make you feel now? I also wonder how this book would be interpreted by those with an impairment in one or more of their five senses. Was everything about to be interpreted by you the reader in the same way someone with full use of their senses does?

Taste is a physical reaction to the stimulation of our senses and our senses shape how we think and who we are. We all interpret stimulation unique to us, but how we describe that interpretation comes down to the senses that a majority of us share and can relate to easily no matter what form it takes. Dubrow certainly helps us form a connection between our tastes/preferences and the worldly experiences around us.

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Not a fan. Finished but the format was weird. I liked the concept of it being about food and how it can bring back memories but the writing was not for me.

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This book was an incredible journey of synesthesia! Dubrow explores taste through metaphor, comparing and contrasting different tastes to books, poems, art, and music. What does bitter LOOK like in a painting? (Think lemons.) What does it SOUND like in music? (Why, Wagner, of course!) Dubrow includes the taste perceptions of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. The premise sounded amazing when I requested it. However, the execution was a bit dry, but I expected that knowing it was written by a college professor. A layman probably will not pick up this book. I definitely can see it being used in a classroom setting. I did learn a few things from reading this. Thank you.

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Food has often been used by poets as a way of expressing themselves. Chefs and others have often been moved to exuberant, passionate language to try and describe food. So a book like this makes perfect sense. Dubrow explores our relationship with our five tastes through experiences - some near-universal, some not - and exquisite language, to try and get at what we mean, what we experience, when we saw sweet or sour or salt or bitter or, most recent to the Western vocab, umami.

There's the sense-memory of strawberry jam, and being a feverish six year old - like Proust's madeleines; heathen that I am in never having even attempted Proust, I have heard of this story and how the taste catapults the narrator through memory. There's Persephone and the sour pomegranate seeds, the experience of sweat dripping down one's face, the ceremony of making a cup of tea. How food have been represented in art - still-lifes, and others - and what this says about the particular foods. Cheese and coffee and chocolate.

It's a delightful collection of moments, of mediations. It reminds that food isn't just fuel, that taste is an experience even if we're just gulping something down as fuel. We don't always have to sit and reflect on the emotion brought about by a particular taste, but it can occasionally be rewarding.

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A fun and lively book which muses on issues large and small, written with a poet's sensibility and vivid language. Highly recommend.

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