Tastes of Bromley revealed in unique take on Tube map
PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 September 2013
London has the power to send almost all of our senses into overdrive.
Whether it’s the smell of exotic meats at Borough Market, the sight of flowers in Columbia Road...or the taste of fingernails in Mile End?
It seems, for some, the capital tastes a little different.
A Tube map, drawn by James Wannerton, recently went viral online, displaying how London’s transport labyrinth is perceived by someone with synaesthesia.
The neurological condition means people can literally taste words and James has spent the past 49 years linking Harry Beck’s Tube map with the tastes he associates with each station.
Travelling to the end of the London Overground, 54-year-old James navigates his way from sugary porridge (Watford Junction) all the way to crunchy carrot (Crystal Palace) via steak and kidney pie (Sydenham).
“When I was younger I would travel on the Tube and have a sequence of tastes in my mind that would tell me where I am,” he explains.
“On the odd occasion that a station was closed, it would really throw me off and I’d have to really think about where I was and how I was going to get there. I really did travel by taste.”
The systems analyst, now living in Blackpool, first linked stations with tastes aged four when he would travel to school with his mother.
His map has been picked up by top US universities Harvard and Yale, which plan to use it when teaching students about language acquisition.
James says his favourite tasting Bromley borough station is Penge West – or chocolate gingersnaps.
“Penge West is a good example of how synaesthesia works,” he says. “Penge gives me the ginger taste, and it’s west that I associate with chocolate. If it was Penge South, it wouldn’t be quite as sweet and would be brought down a notch.”
There are downsides to synaesthesia, as not all words taste quite as delicious as Sydenham or Penge. When asked to put a taste to a few more of Bromley’s railway stations, James associated Orpington with semolina.
He also tasted peanut brittle when mentioning Petts Wood, and, perhaps most mouth- watering of all, it was lamb and mint sauce for Bromley South.
James says he can sometimes be put off people if their name tastes nasty.
He said: “If I hear a name before I meet someone, I can take an immediate dislike to them if their name has a bad taste. I can only compare it with meeting someone with a nasty smell. All my girlfriends have had J-sounding names because that’s very sweet tasting to me.”
Synaesthesia affects about five per cent of people. It is also a very personal condition – tastes may be different for each individual.
With Crystal Palace now known for tasting like crunchy carrots, we spoke to restaurateur Manpreet Dhingra to get a true reflection of the tastes of Bromley.
The owner of Cinnamon Culture in Plaistow Lane believes the map should reflect Asian and Italian cuisine on offer throughout the borough.
“Obviously Bromley used to be the country’s curry capital,” he said. “But there’s also a lot of pasta restaurants, so maybe those two types of food should reflect Bromley.”
To find out more on James’ condition visit uksynaesthesia.com.