Food for Thought

I love me a good “beach read” or some “chic lit,” or any of the other annoying terms that seem to be attached to anything by Emily Giffin or Jen Lancaster, or a list of other fab female writers I could rattle off. 

I try to intersperse some “real” books in there, but by no means am I some hipster book snob, spouting Proust and Yeats over here. My definition of “real” is just some nonfiction thrown in there w/ all the novels I enjoy. 

I’m at school all day on Tuesdays, so in between classes a few weeks ago I found myself window shopping at the library. I try to adhere to the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but when I’m in search of a new book b/c none of my holds have come in yet, I’ll wander the shelves until an interesting title or cover jumps out at me. This was how I came across the book Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way, by Molly Birnbaum. While reading the book jacket, I saw that the author got her start in the restaurant world by working at a place in Boston that’s been on my must-eat-at list for some time now. Small world.

The book can pretty much be summed up by the subtitle; an aspiring chef gets hit by a car, loses her sense of smell - and with it, her sense of taste- and has to navigate her new world and her place in it. While the plot sounds somewhat like a bad Lifetime movie, it was a pretty good read. I liked the parts dealing with Birnbaum’s backstory and when she wrote about her experience in the kitchen; her passion for food and cooking was abundantly clear. The book delves quite a bit into science-y stuff about the senses -smell and taste in particular- and that’s where I would get a little bored, but overall, I enjoyed it. 

Smell is probably the most underrated sense, after all. You think your life would be over if you lost your sight, that you couldn’t live without being able to hear. But if your nose goes? Eh, you’ll live. That’s what I always thought, anyway. This book was really eye-opening into how important our sense of smell is. Not only for our safety, but for what it adds to our lives. 

Imagine not being able to smell a fresh baked apple crisp on a beautiful fall day. How would you know Christmas was approaching without the smell of vanilla and cloves escaping your oven, without smelling that Douglas fir as you decorate your tree? Can you picture your life without ever smelling fresh-cut grass again, without inhaling that clean, sharp scent after a heavy storm? 

And don’t even get me started on losing your sense of taste. Seriously, I can’t even.