Where are all the synaesthetic chefs?
Charles Spence · Jozef Youssef · Ophelia Deroy · Oct 2015
With high-end chefs being increasingly considered as artists, gastronomy offers a new domain for our understanding of creativity. As several claims have been made about the link between synaesthesia and creativity, one would expect to find at least as many synaesthetes among chefs as among painters, composers, or writers—and perhaps even more—given the highly multisensory nature of the culinary arts. Here, we examine why synaesthesia is still under-reported among creative chefs. Does the absence of such reports merely reflect the fact that synaesthesia is so overly common when it comes to the chemical senses to even merit attention, or on the contrary, that synaesthesia involving the chemical senses (i.e. smell, taste, or their composite, flavour) as either the “inducer” or “concurrent” is really rare? An alternative explanation, which we advance here, is that synaesthetic creativity, when expressed in edible form, may simply not be very tasty: As such, the very fact that the fruits of the artist’s work are consumed may fundamentally distinguish the culinary arts from other inedible forms of art.