Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I have been experiencing anosmia for the past several days. It sounds like it could be the lack of a nose, but I still have my nose, just no sense of smell. I've had a bad cold that completely stuffed up my sinuses with the result that I can't smell anything, and can taste very little. It's happened before with colds for a night, or maybe even a whole day, but never for four days. I did a little reading about anosmia and found out that it does happen that someone loses their sense of smell during a cold and when the cold goes away, the sense of smell never comes back. That's when I stopped reading about it.
It's difficult to cook without my sense of smell. It never occurred to me that I rely on it not only for how to season things, but also how long to cook things. I made one of my most-often-cooked dinners, lentils and cornbread, and even so I forgot to put salt in, and didn't know if I had put enough balsamic vinegar in at the end. I can taste basic flavors on their own, like salt and sugar and vinegar, but detecting the right level of them in a lentil soup is too nuanced for just my tongue alone. I baked an apple galette over the weekend, and when my son came upstairs and breathed in and said,"Oh, that smells so good!" I wasn't sure what he was talking about for a moment. I overcooked the broccoli, since I couldn't smell that it was just passing the "done" stage, and luckily was reminded to take the cornbread out of the oven by my son, again responding to the smell.
Yesterday for lunch I microwaved a BBQ chipotle tamale with black beans and cheese, thinking that this would be sure to blast through. It tasted slightly sweet, that's all, although I could feel the spicy sensation in my mouth. All the various teas I've been drinking to "loosen things up" are just hot water. And take it from me, wine without its smell is just sour. Coffee without its smell is bitter. Eating and drinking turns into sort of a chore without the enticing smell of what I'm putting in my mouth.
So I turned to the laundry, but guess what! I sniff the clothes to see if they're dirty.
I'm left with the cliche from the Joni Mitchell song: You don't know what you've got till it's gone. Here's hoping for my sense of smell to return soon!

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