Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the kitchen reader: season to taste

Season to Taste, about a young woman whose hopes of becoming a chef are dashed after a car accident wipes out her sense of smell, isn't so much a story about food as it is about understanding our bodies' ability to smell. The book, written by Molly Birnbaum, was March's Kitchen Reader pick, chosen by Katherine Martinelli.

This book was fascinating. I spent the entire month hyper-aware of my sense of smell. I tried holding my nose while eating to see how it impacted my ability to taste (the verdict: carrots still tasted sweet, but they lost their earthiness). I noticed when my sense of smell alerted me to something (nearby smokers, and impending rainstorm, that glob of something that's been burning away at the bottom of my oven for weeks). And I paid attention to what smells attracted my attention on the street (coffee, the guy wearing the same cologne as an old friend, flowers popping up everywhere). I've never been so aware of and grateful for my sense of smell before reading this book. It quickly became clear to me that my ability to smell - and to easily identify what I'm smelling - is something I've taken for granted for years.

While this book wasn't what I expected (there was only a rare mention of food), it was really enjoyable. I've read several books so far this year that educated me on subjects I'd never thought much about before, and I'm glad writers like Birnbaum have found the time and means and made the connections necessary to research as interesting a topic as this so thoroughly!


  1. I really enjoyed Molly's use of adjectives in this book. I also wish there was more mention of food, but I can understand why there isn't. :)


  2. In the subway station today I smelled the smell of an old friend, but when I trend, it wasn't him. Birnbaum gave me a new appreciation for that kind of scent-memory. You are right that there wasn't as much about food as I thought there might be. But, my, she was good at describing scents!