Not About Food

How to better enjoy food when you have a compromised sense of smell


Not About Food 12

How to better enjoy food when you have a compromised sense of smell

vil | May 17, 2014 01:54 PM

It is definitely awful when you find yourself suddenly losing your sense of smell, in a bad round of the cold or an accident. Most recover quickly but unfortunately some do not. As a Chowhound, what is one to do? I offered to write this up in a recent discussion, some suggestions.

1. Play on the contrast in textures instead. For example, simple things like topping food with crunchy, flaky sea salt, or a dollop of melt-in-your-mouth butter (or both). Add bubbly soda water into your juice or favourite drink, to add one more dimension to it that you can enjoy. I learned (and does anyone else know) that the one of the creators of Ben and Jerry's ice-cream is anosmic, and his idea of overloading on different ingredients in the ice-cream comes from wanting to compensate for the lack of the ability to smell.

2. According to this book (, they did a study that shows that individuals claim to taste more of the food when a hot spice was added to it, even when at a level that they could barely detect. Experiment with all kinds of hot spice and condiment, to see what works for you.
3. Heating or warming the food may help you taste more of it.
4. Use colours and other attractive visuals to help stimulate your appetite.
5. Also, it is time to take time to really sit down, look at and appreciate the food to get more out of it.
6. Use the sour component (lemon, vinegar etc.) to accentuate taste. Better yet, add contrast with the basic taste components that you can still detect (salty, sweet, sour, bitter etc.). You can either include them in one dish, as different components with your meal.
7. Just like how the wine tasters taste wine, inhaling deliberately to get more air into the retronasal passages (airways connecting the nose to the mouth) while eating may help with tasting more.
8. Also a good excuse to get better quality meat and other food ingredients, that have more taste and aroma. Umami (natural or MSG) also helps.
9. Also, you may find the same salted dish tasting much more salty and likewise with sweet. This is because you cannot detect the other nuances that make up the "flavour" of the food, and I suppose you get more easily overwhelmed by the single taste. So it might be time to adjust seasoning accordingly.
10. Read Chowhound for new food ideas to try :-)

Some of this was from the above book, a good read about a chef who had temporarily lost her sense of smell. Any more ideas?

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