I just returned home from a two-week trip to Torino (Turin) Italy. If you want to experience your five senses with GUSTO, this is one of the countries you should visit.
I TASTED the cool creamy sweetness of real Italian Gelato, bit into crusty (salt-free) Tuscan bread piled high with fresh-made tomato Bruschetta and drizzled with first-press virgin olive oil from an orchard that covered the nearby rolling hills. I sipped a frosty pale green menta (mint) icy that tingled my taste buds and sent shivers of coolness through my mouth and throat…on a baking-hot humid day.
I sampled a vast array of Italian cheeses (said to outshine France’s), from wedges of soft, creamy whites, protected by powdery rinds, to the mellow, medium-soft, large-holed varieties (not Swiss), that were delicious in a salty-sweet way with a dollop of apricot jam on top, to the hard, net-wrapped aged cheeses that take a good strong knife to slice, and a hunk of soft Italian bread to eat it with to even out the sharpness.
An expensive treat reserved for special occasions are the tiny balls of fresh Mozzarella floating in whey and filled with rich sweet cream that oozes into your mouth when you eat them. Magnifico!
What of the pastas (hardly ever spaghetti) in rich tomato sauces with melted cheese (and occasionally chopped hard boiled eggs), or made with basil-green home-made pesto?
What about a decadent hot chocolate so thick and rich that it looks like Hershey’s Chocolate Topping, but more delicious, served with a scoop of freshly whipped cream so thick you could eat it with a fork.
Aromas tease your nose when you walk past pizzerias or pastry shops. Sweets and Savories. Or sniff the meaty goodness of rows of whole chickens roasting on a rotisserie, dripping their goodness onto large chunks of peeled potatoes below.
Old Roman style streets of small cobblestones or large rectangle blocks make for uneven walking and leg strain…but offer a “rubbery warbling” from the tires of cars passing by…if you listen. Horns honk continuously as Italian drivers in tiny cars dart in front of you, whiz by you, or fume impatiently behind you. “Romantic” Italian is spoken everywhere, quickly, rolling from the tongue with unfamiliar consonant and vowel endings, sometimes staccato, sometimes lyrical.
Move through wet heat that causes limp hair, sticky skin, and clothes that cling. And then come upon an arched metal fountain in a park or piazza in the shape of a bull’s head (honoring “Torino”) that flows with cool sweet entirely drinkable water from its mouth. Hold out an empty water bottle, or cup your hands to catch the coolness, or even bend your head and drink freely.
Italian greetings surprise you, not with impersonal nods or stodgy handshakes, but with full frontal hugs, kissing (or air-kissing) on each side of the cheeks (always beginning on the right side!), a hearty pat or two on the back and a warm smile and verbal “Ciao.”
Kids walk down the streets holding hands and they hug their siblings freely, unembarrassed.
You will see women (entirely “straight”) strolling arm in arm or hand in hand.
Sometimes men too. (Seriously!)
Vibrant with the five senses!
What about your writing? Are you taking advantage of the “Big Five?”
Exercise: Smell is the only sense that has a direct pathway to the memory center of your brain. What smells brings up unexpected memories for you? (Grandma’s house, your husband’s pajamas, Plumaria flowers, frying bacon, a certain spiced tea, wood polish, month-old laundry, cinnamon rolls warm out of the oven….a dead rat? Describe a few of these using your sense of smell.
Hint: Read wine or perfume sites to build your smell vocabulary.
Exercise: How would you describe the sounds around you right now? Pause and listen! Describe how fire sounds in a fireplace… in a forest fire. What’s the sound of water in a pool, a creek, an ocean? Make up a few new onomatopoeia sounds.
Exercise: Describe something fluffy, icy, pliable, jagged, papery, leathery, or slick. What do things vibrating or painful feel like?
Exercise: Describe what something tastes like using a metaphor. (Comedian, Tim Hawkins, compares the taste and texture of a Krispy Kreme donut to “eating a baby angel.” Think about that!) What makes your mouth “water?” What makes you gag? What does blood taste like when you bite the inside of your cheek? Have you tasted tears? Mother’s milk? Can you describe them?
Extra Credit Exercise. Buy a Bean Boozled Spinner Game and play several rounds with a friend. Describe the tastes of the Jelly Belly beans your pointer chooses for you. Flavors include Buttered Popcorn, Peach, Carmel Corn, Chocolate Fudge, and Rotten Egg, Dead Fish, Lawn Clippings and Barf. I DARE YOU!! Find a game here: https://amzn.to/2v4snUc
Exercise: Describe places you love. Describes different kinds of light, different shapes, perspective, illusion. Truly see a person passing by and tell what each aspect of his clothing, skin hue, walk, manner, and speed could mean. Use metaphors to describe a few of your favorite colors.
Close your eyes. Imagine one of your favorite places: a local coffee shop, the beach, a small bakery in Paris… anywhere. Take a few minutes to describe this place.
What is your favorite sense to write with? Use the senses God gave you to SHOW your readers how you feel. They’ll love you for it.