How often do you read book you love and realize that the author lives in your neighborhood? Well, it’s happened to me! Molly Birnbaum’s terrific and smart memoir Season to Taste, about losing her sense of smell after being struck by a car, entranced me this week. Turns out she lives here in Cambridge.
Towards the end of her four years at Brown, Molly realized that she loved food more than anything else and applied to the Culinary Institute of America. The, shortly before leaving for school, a car struck her while she crossed the street. Her descriptions of the accident made me feel the intensity of the situation and the pain she felt. It wasn’t until months later during recovery, that she realized she couldn’t smell anything.
I learned a lot this week about our sense of smell. For example, serious depression is a common occurrence in those who have lost their sense of smell and vice versa. And although being unable to smell greatly reduces the ability to taste, the basic tastes like sweetness and saltiness are still preserved. It’s fascinating stuff. After what I would call a mourning period, Molly begins to explore the science of olfaction. And she begins to smell again.
What I loved about Season to Taste is Molly’s attitude. She never seems to feel sorry for herself and this is no indulgent look-at-my-life-isn’t-it-so-interesting memoir that seem to come across my desk so often these days. Instead she highlights something traumatic that happened to her and details in her warm, compassionate voice her journey through it all.
There ought to be a whole branch of medicine designed to help with problems with the five senses.
They’re the gateways to everything.
This seems like an interesting book. I would imagine that losing their sense of smell is not high up on people’s concern list. The sense of smell is so taken for granted but so important. This one’s going on my list.
I lost my sense of smell and taste on July 1, 2010. I had a terrible sinus infection. It is life changing! No cravings, no stomach growls, no desire to eat. I find I eat for the texture of food now. I have lost 17 pounds because I gave up sweets. Why eat them if you can’t taste it!
It is also scary as I have set off the fire alarm by burning toast, the gas stove didn’t ignite and there was gas escaping for I don’t know how long before my daughter came home and smelled it. I could go on and on. I will definitely get this book. It is nice to know I am not alone in this.