(By Ben Riley-Smith/DailyTelegraph) Man who can ‘taste’ words creates flavour map of the Tube after visiting every stop during 49-year project.
But now a 54-year-old systems analyst from Blackpool has created the most bizarre version to date – a map that shows what each station tastes like.
James Wannerton tastes words when he reads or hears them thanks to a neurological condition called synaesthesia that links senses which are normally experienced separately.
He first noticed each Underground station created a distinct taste aged four when travelling to school with his mother from the family home near Willesden, north London.
Since then Mr Wannerton has continued to keep notes and make special trips to London after leaving the city to complete his “taste map” of the Tube. The 49-year project was finally completed earlier this year.
This actually became a bit of an obsession – not unlike standing on breezy railway platforms collecting train numbers,” Mr Wannerton said.
“I’ve often gone out of my way to travel through places such as Plaistow and Mill Hill East just to see what they taste like in situ and of course to add another to my collection.”
Among the flavours that appear on the map are apple pie, bubble and squeak, HP sauce, purple grapes, chicken soup and soft boiled egg.
Many of the tastes come from Mr Wannerton’s childhood with sweets such as love hearts, poppets, soft wine gums and jelly tots cropping up on the map.
A number of obscure flavours also feature including coal dust, putrid meat, burnt rubber, wet wool, pencil eraser, fuzzy felt and dried blood.
Some of the flavours that appear on Mr Wannerton’s “taste map”
Mr Wannerton, who has been diagnosed with lexical-gustatory synaesthesia and is president of the UK Synaesthesia Association, explained how he detected the tastes.
“It is incredibly consistent. These tastes and textures never change,” he said.
“All I did was traverse the underground lines. It was very natural and involuntary; when the taste popped up I made a note of it.”
The map is now being used by researchers to help understand the link between word formations and the tastes synaesthetes experience.
The three tastiest stops
Baker Street is lovely. The best way to describe it is crusty and sweet, like jam roly-poly but slightly burnt. It has got loads of different tastes and textures. I love getting off there.
Like a moist Dundee cake without the almond bits. Or a rich fruit cake with lumps of fruit in. There is a mouth feel, not just an association, so it is like actually eating the stuff.
Tottenham Court Road
This is one of the strongest flavours on the map. It tastes of sausage and egg. There are crusty bits of burnt sausage and the egg is well done. A lovely breakfast taste.