This section of our blog is for all of Gary’s fellow anosmia sufferers no matter if you acquired it as a symptom of superficial siderosis, other health conditions, an accident or were born without a sense of smell.
I love the way this word looks. The way it rolls off the tongue. The way it sounds. I guarantee that’s the only thing there is to love about it.
Gary fought a battle for years with phantosmia. His medical records document random bouts of anosmia starting fifteen years ago. Back in 2006, we toured a working replica of James Bowie’s blacksmith shop. The smell from the forge area was dark and oily. Gary complained about this odor lingering in his sinuses for months afterward. He smelled it, tasted it and couldn’t shake it off.
He lost the pleasant smells first. Spring arrived along with all the beautiful scents. Cut grass, fresh flowers from the garden, the air after a good rain. I’d cut a rose, “Can you smell this?” The answer was always no. Gary’s battle with superficial siderosis has now left him with a complete and total loss of his sense of smell, good or bad.
This change brought a new challenge some of you are very familiar with. Without a sense of smell, a person can’t taste food beyond the five fundamental taste senses your tongue and tastebuds supply.
“There are more than 2,000 taste buds on the human tongue which can distinguish at least five tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami.” Steve Lee from, Biomedical Engineer, Australian National University (ANU).
The answer is to search for foods you can build, layering texture and temperatures with softness, crunch or chewiness. Season with some of the five tastes, and you’ll create something that allows you or your anosmiac a chance to enjoy one of life’s basic needs and pleasures.
This recipe collection will continue to grow over time as we discover new combinations. If you have a recipe you’d like to add, feel free to send it our way.
Please remember if you have a healthy sense of smell (and taste) you may not enjoy all of the recipes. I do eat everything I make for Gary, but sometimes guests find some of the combinations weird.
What We’ve Learned Along The Way
When we talk about seasoning with the basic five tastes, we don’t always mean spices in a traditional sense. Adding feta, sharp cheddar, fresh shredded parmesan or mozzarella to your dish is an excellent way to add saltiness, creaminess if they’re melted and, with the mozzarella, some nice chewiness.
Vegetables need some creative thinking. Overcooked no-taste mush is never appealing. Fresh English peas can be lightly steamed the teeniest bit and chilled. Toss them as a garnish on to a warm dish, and you get a beautiful mouthfeel from the combination pop and coolness. Roasting hard winter squashes, carrots or other root vegetables will bring out the natural sweetness. Brush them with a light glaze of honey and Tabasco, throw over an open flame and you’ll get a beautiful mix of heat, sweet and char.
Meats are a puzzle because no matter if it’s chicken, fish, pork or beef it all tastes the same. Gary can’t tell you what kind of meat he’s eating unless he can identify the cut. I try to make use of glazes, spicy chutneys, hot sauces or coatings.
Apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, spicey ketchup, chutneys, hot spices, peppers, dried fruits and dark bitter chocolate will all find their way to you. Don’t be afraid to experiment. The fails will be forgotten, but the wins will last forever.
Note: this will be a work in progress for a little while as I try and document the exact recipes.