Cooking For Anosmia and Parosmia

Okay, Boss Witches, this might seem unusual for me. But, at the behest of my partner, who suffers from anosmia / parosmia (depending on the day), I have promised to do this post.

What is Anosmia, and What is Parosmia?

Great question. I had never heard of it until Jessie got anosmia in 2017 after a really, really brutal virus that they think may have been glandular fever.

Anosmia is when you literally cannot taste or smell ANYTHING. Like, at all. You could eat something and it would just taste like a big mouthful of sweet f*ck all. This is what Jessie had at the beginning, and it was awful. She could barely eat, and she lost loads of weight because eating was just a massive chore, and she was hungry all the time.

A young child smells a flower.

Parosmia is when things taste and smell like something, but not what they’re supposed to taste and smell like. Which in some ways is better than anosmia, but in lots of ways is worse, because things taste BAD. For example, Jessie used to love chocolate, but now chocolate tastes like petrol.

What I’ve learned about these two conditions over the past few years has been a lot, a little, but mostly this: when you can’t taste food, you need to FEEL food. So basically, we are talking about TEXTURE.

Cooking With Texture

If everything tastes normal to you, and things are just delicious, then you don’t really need to think about texture. But if everything tastes like nothingness, or if everything tastes kind of like a mixture of dried flowers and chemical sewerage, then texture becomes suddenly really important.

My biggest tip: nuts.

A mixed selection of nuts.

As you can read in my earlier post, nuts are generally a great all-round food. They’re good for us, and they make us feel good. But nuts are also a great way to add texture to a meal. For example, I love making a rice salad inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi, with my own additions (my whole family makes it, we all make it differently). But I cram it full of textural goodies, like fresh, skin-on almonds, dried goji berries and pine nuts.

The tastes

A selection of spices in metal bowls.

Sweet. Salty. Umami. Spicy. These are the things we aim for when cooking for an anosmic or parosmic person. The more you can get in there, the better. So, for example, crispy foods (texture) with sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavour profiles are generally a good bet.

Anosmia / Parosmia Recipe No. 1.

Crispy Skin Salmon with Crispy Kale

This is one of Jessie’s favourites that I make.

So number one – make your brown rice. Head over to Saveur to learn the art of brown rice – once I started cooking brown rice like pasta, my whole cooking life changed. COOK IT LIKE PASTA. It’s textural, it’s delicious, it’s flavourful and everyone will eat it.

A raw salmon fillet.

INGREDIENTS

2 x Salmon Fillets (skin on)
Olive oil
Lemon
2 x handfuls fresh kale (chopped)
1/2 lemon
Salt
Pepper
Paprika

This is the easiest recipe ever.

So get your brown rice cooking, and pre-heat the oven to 180 CELSIUS.

Rub olive oil onto the skin of the salmon fillets and crack salt and pepper on top.

Pop the salmon into a cold pan, heating to about 4 (medium). We want to leave the fillets on this skin side for ages – we’re aiming for the crispiest skin and the least amount of apartment-filling smoke at this point.

Meanwhile, chuck your kale onto some baking paper on a baking pan, and drizzle it with olive oil. Now crack a generous amount of salt and pepper onto it, then sprinkle with paprika (as much as you like – I like a lot) and whack it in the oven. It’s going to stay in there for about 15 minutes.

Fresh kale.

When those fillets are almost cooked through, squeeze lemon onto them and flip them to seal. If you need to seal the sides (WHOA, you have some hefty salmon fillets), then please do.

A grilled salmon fillet with lemon.

Once it’s cooked, which should take about the same amount of time as the kale, we’re going to take it off, let it rest for about 2 minutes, then serve with the brown rice and the crispy kale. Use whichever condiments your anosmic/parosmic friend can bear (probably something super spicy like Sriracha).

ENJOY!

I’ll post some more recipes for our anosmic/parosmic buddies soon.

Namaste,

xxK

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