SEASON TO TASTE : HOW I LOST MY SENSE OF SMELL AND FOUND MY WAY
by Molly Birnbaum
Although she majored in art history while in college, Molly Birnbaum spent most of her time reading cookbooks and checking out recipes on the Internet. Being a chef was her passion. Before being trained at the Culinary Institute of America, she got a job at a restaurant and started to learn the true basics in the preparation of food. Molly loved being challenged. Soon she would get more than she bargained for.
While out running, Birnbaum was hit by a car: her pelvis was broken, her knee totally torn up and her skull was fractured (it went through the windshield). Everything eventually healed except her sense of smell. There went her dreams of being a great cook. If she can't smell, she can't taste.
Birnbaum goes to doctors who tell her that there is no hope, no medications, that she has to live with her loss. Not content with this news, she visits scientists who study olfaction and pheromones; meets neuroscientists, one of them being Oliver Sacks; goes to a flavor lab in New Jersey; and takes a two week course in southern France at a renowned perfume school. She is determined to understand what is going on with her nose and how to compensate.
Who knew how important scent is in our lives? Just reading about her descriptions of rosemary, cinnamon and lavender and how the brain processes each molecule for a complete entity is fascinating. Never take your nose for granted.
Birnbaum's writing is superb. Her perseverance and strength brought her success. She changed careers but didn't lose her love of cooking and can obviously do each one quite well.