This New Cookbook Helps People Who Lost Their Sense of Smell Because of Covid Cook Again

Taste and Flavour builds recipes for those missing a sense of smell or taste.

woman chopping fresh vegetables
Photo: yulkapopkova

Thanks to vaccination progress, there's a bit of optimism on the horizon that the worst parts of pandemic life could soon be over for most of us sooner rather than later. But for those who actually contracted Covid-19 and are still suffering from what's increasingly been referred to as "long covid," the struggle may outlive vaccinations and mask mandates.

While it's still too early for the medical community to fully grasp the long-term implications of the coronavirus, a number of those who contracted it still suffer from a diminished (or even nonexistent) sense of smell and taste. While perhaps not the most serious of potential symptoms comparatively speaking, it certainly saps the pleasure out of eating and negatively affects one's quality of life.

Luckily, a team of two British chefs wants to help long Covid sufferers get a little joy back in the kitchen and at the dinner table with help from a series of recipes specifically tailored to their disappointing "new normal." Written by Ryan Riley and Kimberly Duke, Taste & Flavour features recipes specifically engineered to delight those with a missing or distorted sense of smell (which is a significant factor in the sense of taste).

taste and flavour cookbook
Life Kitchen

The duo's experience cooking for those missing a sense of taste or smell comes from their work at Life Kitchen, a free Sunderland, England cooking school they co-opened to help cancer patients get a boost from finding the joy in cooking and eating during a difficult time. As the pandemic wore on and one of Covid's signature symptoms became more commonplace, Riley and Duke got to work adapting their strategy for an emerging class of smell-challenged eaters.

Riley and Duke's Taste & Flavour process started by presenting covid long-haulers with about 300 recipes to narrow them down to a list of 17 that passed the "taste" test. That means emphasizing texture as much as possible, while ramping up the umami in order to stimulate the salivary glands. Simultaneously, the recipes also avoid certain foods like garlic, onions, and even chocolate that suddenly taste terrible to those missing a normal sense of smell.

If you or a food lover you know is struggling with long Covid, it's more than worth downloading a free digital copy of Taste & Flavour (or pay £3.00 to ship a hard copy anywhere in mainland UK). And if you've ever been curious about what an umami biscuit might taste like, you can grab a copy too.

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