Gustatory Imagery

Definition of Gustatory Imagery

Gustatory imagery allows the readers to imagine the sense of taste while reading a poem or text.  It is more functional and effectual when an author describes a taste that the reader has already experienced.  To stimulates the reader’s taste buds, the writer describes the appealing and suitable use of imagery when the characters breathe, eat or visit an unusual place that fills the atmosphere. Thus, through this imagery, the writer creates a picture in the reader’s mind that approaches that specific taste which writer wants a reader to imagine. This all depends on the richness of gustatory imagery. It includes metallic, sweetness, saltiness, sourness, spiciness, and bitterness. A few examples are given below.

Examples of Gustatory Imagery From Poetry

Man Versus Pepper by Roper

One sniff gives a clue of the heat within.
First bite feels like swallowing a lighted blow torch,
And tears stream from his eyes like a flash flood
As the dying ghost pepper delivers its savage revenge.

In the above-mentioned lines, the poet describes the experience of extra spicy food that how the eyes and stomach reacts to swallowing it.

This Is Just To Say by William Carlos William

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Here the poet is discussing the taste of sweet icy plums. The imagery helps the writer to make the reader imagine the cool syrupy taste of the fruit and cool drink.

Cooking by Jonathan Swift

Gently blow and stir the fire,
Lay the mutton down to roast,
Dress it nicely I desire,
In the dripping put a toast,
That I hunger may remove:
Mutton is the meat I love.

The above lines make the reader imagines the texture of tender meat, which is also chewy and fleshy food with tasty spices.

To Earthward by Robert Frost

I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.
Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain

In the above lines, the poet very impressively flavored his words with sweet and salt to express his emotions and feelings as if he were tasting rose petals too.

Taste Of Summer by Swati Goswami

Crushed leaves and grass,
tasty tangy smells of summer.
Trees are full and plush.
Fruit are succulent and ripe.….
The brisk winds will soon be moist.
I take a deep breath and try to drink the summer

The above poem has beautiful gustatory imagery and alliteration in the repetition of “T” and a well-defined zest of the summer season.

The Eve of St.Agnes by  John Keats

While he forth from the closet brought a heap
Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd;
With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon;
Manna and dates, in argosy transferr’d
From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one,
From silken Samarcand to cedar’d Lebanon.

In the scene from the poem, when the person who is hiding in the closet to see his beloved stumbles across the food, the poet very richly combines the description of fruits for sweetness and rich, spicy treats from Lebanese delicacies.

Examples of Gustatory Imagery From Literature

“The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. He was quite warm now, and very comfortable.” – The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

One of the best scenes from the book, this scene describes the taste of sweets in this imagery and Edmund’s love for the Turkish delight as the White Witch fulfills his wish.

The sweetness of new potatoes, fresh peas, broad beans, the grassy herbalness of asparagus… – Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson

In this example, the readers can imagine the freshness of vegetables as the writer and chef, Nigella, introduces the recipes made by these greens.

 “It was a rimy morning, and very damp. I had seen the damp lying on the outside of my little window … Now, I saw the damp lying on the bare hedges and spare grass … On every rail and gate, wet lay clammy; and the marsh-mist was so thick, that the wooden finger on the post directing people to our village — a direction which they never accepted, for they never came there — was invisible to me until I was quite close under it.” – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

In the above example, the readers can imagine the taste of a place and weather instead of food which is mostly used to express gustatory imagery.

“… these are Mother’s Day chocolates. … I was — able to pick them up at a bargain price. [They’re] in perfect condition, … stored under the best of conditions since last spring.  – The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

This example describes the taste of old chocolate that hadn’t been touched for a year.

Examples of Gustatory Imagery in Sentences

  • Randy bought his favorite muffin and stuffed it right into his mouth. The creamy, sweet, sugary taste of chocolate ran over his taste buds as he ate a dozen of them.
  • The drink Lenny offered in his office had a strong, minty flavor.
  • Obviously, this sugar-free candy tastes synthetic without real sugar. Sugar is rich and salivating but dangerous to health.
  • The juicy, bright red cherries reminded Kyle of his mother’s recipe.
  • The salty taste of rich, creamy peanut butter was Mandy’s all-time favorite.
  • The combination of sweet soft carrots and the tangy flavor of vinegar make the vegetable soup richer.
  • As Roman dived into the pool, he accidentally swallowed water that tasted like brine carbonated water with a burning taste on his tongue.
  • Nancy plucked an orange from the tree. She peeled the fruit and squeezed juice, while drinking she tasted the sweet-bitter flavor that quenched her thirst.
  • Jeniffer took a small bite of the pancake, the sweet honey filled her mouth. She licked the running honey drops from her chin.
  • Whoa, this is so good! Evan exclaimed as he took a large bite of the buttery, spicy pizza slice.

William Shakespeare and Gustatory Imagery

“The sweetest honey is loathsome in its own deliciousness. And in the taste destroys the appetite. Therefore, love moderately.” – Romeo and Juliet

In these lines, Shakespeare means that something over-sweet can be unhealthy and may result in a disturbance of appetite. Here gustatory imagery is used as a metaphor.

“There were no sallets (nothing piquant) in the lines to make the matter savoury” says Hamlet to the players. – Hamlet

Here the words ‘sallets’ and ‘savory’ both are gustatory imageries.

Examples Of Gustatory Imagery From The Bible

How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! – Psalm 119:103

Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar, and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil. – Numbers 11:7-8

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. – Psalm 19:10

Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man,
But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel. – Proverbs 20:17

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men – Mathew 5:13
The Role Of Olfactory Imagery (Smell) with Gustatory Imagery

Gustatory imagery is used to describe flavors and food experiences. The relationship between taste and smell cannot be ignored. Where there is a discussion of taste, it is directly connected with smell. Smell plays a vital role in enhancing the flavor of food. For example, one might say that the smoky smell of roasted chicken is making my stomach rumble.

Gustatory imagery allows the reader to imagine food and taste. Sometimes it is known to make the reader hungry by bringing forth the sense of melancholy feeling to eat the described food or dish. This imagery is also effective in describing irritating or unpleasant flavors.  Rich gustatory imagery used by the writer allows a reader to dive into well-seasoned words and approach the idea that a writer wants to convey. Writers use gustatory imagery in literal and poetic languages. In some cases, the texture of imagery is as much important as the taste, i.e., crumbly, crunchy, juicy, tender, etc.

In conclusion, it’s up to the writer’s skill how he garnishes his work with spell bounding and creamy words that make the reader enter into the writer’s world.