Darling, Which “Taste Lovers” Are You, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy or Salty

This article “Darling, Which ‘Taste Lover’ Are You, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy or Salty” is excerpted from Polysh
By Yun-Chih Zeng
Photography/ Xiaoguang & Yoy

Legend has it that women miss their lovers in different ways from men. Compared with the linear histories, women’s nostalgia is more like an instant intuition, such as the incomprehensible abstract painting hung in the double room; the sweater held in arms after being taken down from the clothes rack in the morning; the chicken soup for “nourishing your body”, but awkwardly seasoned with too much salt … the peculiar green in the painting, the softener fragrance on the wrist, and a spoonful of greasy hot soup. Bits of emotional memory in a relationship are connected to form a line and lines are connected to form a complete story full of tears and smiles.

We may not remember how the story started, but the tastes of sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and salty intertwined with the love story come hand in hand with the day-to-day emotions and eventually bring our lovers to life from our memory. It’s like the memory of a palatable dish that sometimes comes back to us vividly when we experience similar tastes even after we bid “farewell” to the restaurant some time ago.

“Human taste receptor cells are found in the epithelial tissues of the tongue, soft palate, throat and epiglottis. Lovers are one of the factors that trigger and transmit emotional messages to the brain – but the perception of lover’s presence is stronger than that of any other.”

I first encountered Miss Cyndi’s works on MRT during the peak hours. With people in the physical world walking hurriedly, the virtual world in my palm was also filled with hustle and bustle. I felt anxious, but my thumb played magic miraculously and stopped when I swiped down on the illustrations forwarded by a friend. At the moment, I felt like flying off a vast crazy universe and landing on a romantic and exquisite pink planet. These women painted by Miss Cyndi seem different from one another at first glance but many similarities, such as light hair, and lazy poses, can be found when taking a closer look. These images made me feel as if I broke into the chamber of a teenage girl. A consistent sense of coziness can be found in the expressions and poses of every illustrated woman.  

This illustrated book “Taste Lovers” by Miss Cyndi was published in 2015. At first, I mistook it for a collection of “lover”-themed essays and illustrations, but only to find with surprise that though with the element of romantic love, the “tastes,” which I thought would be a supporting element, are actually a key element that threads all chapters in the book. After all, the intimacy between lovers starts with a kiss. Similarly, all dishes are tasted through lips. The thirst for and experience of emotions and food always resonate with each other to some extent. After some time on a day when the weather is getting warm and “stimulating” appetizers are needed before meals, I re-open this book “Taste Lovers” to relive the various tastes depicted in the images and words.  

▲Taste Lovers,” recipe for spicy men: Seafood salad , Spicy stewed eggplant with curry  

▲”Taste Lovers,” recipe for warm salty men: Bitter gourd with salted egg  

“What is the sorrow of love? Is it edible?” If yes, what does it taste like?”

Consistent with the sensation described in the illustrations, Miss Cyndi divides men in her life into five categories through “Taste Lovers”: cold bitter men, sweet men, spicy men, warm salty men, and tempting sour men. As a recollection of the taste memory when in love, she prepares six recipes for these types of men. These recipes also reflect the process of the love journeys from “first encounter” to “post-breakup.”   

▲”Taste Lovers,” cold bitter men  

▲”Taste Lovers,” sweet men  

▲”Taste Lovers,” spicy men  

▲”Taste Lovers,” warm salty men  

▲”Taste Lovers,” tempting sour men

“When love is compared to the taste, nothing will be measured or judged, except things you are willing to remember. And they will be kept as nutrients for growth and criteria for selection.”

The cold bitter men in pursuit of the texture of life are as decent and neat as Kaiseki cuisine, but they are too “artistic” to be accessible. The childish sweet men are as fancy and rich as honey toast. But in the romance lies the fear of disillusionment. The loneliness-shrouded spicy men are just like spicy stewed eggplant with curry, prompting their lover to gradually meet their expectations after practicing spicy food. The ordinary and discreet warm salty men resembles tofu-pudding with peanuts. Their inconspicuous appearance harbors an addictive sweet taste. The glamorous shining men, whose scientific name is tempting sour men, seem like a cup of fruit tea with a unique fresh aroma. They are fresh and sweet, but unfit for individual use.

▲”Taste Lovers,” recipe for cold bitter men: Japanese Kaiseki cuisine  

▲”Taste Lovers,” recipe for sweet men: romantic Western meal  

“Taste Lovers” takes its readers to taste and review these passersby in our life through these illustrations, without comparing or judging them. These memories may be sweet and aromatic, or sour, bitter or salty. Miss Cyndi describes, with warm and delicate words, how she relived the tastes of her past love through these specialty cuisines. Taking off the joy and sorrow in the relationships, she depicts these “imperfect” love stories with tenderness. After all these years, these stories are still beautiful.

“Now, try to cook meals for yourself, and feel your lover with your taste of food.”

Which is your lover, sour, sweet, bitter, spicy or salty?

“Taste Lovers” by Miss Cyndi, published by KATE Publishing

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