Season to Taste

How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way

Birnbaum, Molly

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Season to Taste
An aspiring chef's moving account of finding her wayâe"in the kitchen and beyondâe"after a tragic accident destroys her sense of smell At twenty-two, just out of college, Molly Birnbaum spent her nights reading cookbooks and her days working at a Boston bistro, preparing to start training at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. She knew exactly where she wanted the life ahead to lead: She wanted to be a chef. But shortly before she was due to matriculate, she was hit by a car while out for a run in Boston. The accident fractured her skull, broke her pelvis, tore her knee to shredsâe"and destroyed her sense of smell. The flesh and bones would heal...but her sense of smell?And not being able to smell meant not being able to cook. She dropped her cooking school plans, quit her restaurant job, and sank into a depression. Season to Taste is the story of what came next: how she picked herself up and set off on a grand, entertaining quest in the hopes of learning to smell again. Writing with the good cheer and great charm of Laurie Colwin or Ruth Reichl, she explores the science of olfaction, pheromones, and Proust's madei&elne; she meets leading experts, including the writer Oliver Sacks, scientist Stuart Firestein, and perfumer Christophe Laudamiel; and she visits a pioneering New Jersey flavor lab, eats at Grant Achatz's legendary Chicago restaurant Alinea, and enrolls at a renowned perfume school in the South of France, all in an effort to understand and overcome her condition. A moving personal story packed with surprising facts about our senses, Season to Taste is filled with unforgettable descriptions of the smells Birnbaum rediscoversâe"from cinnamon, cedarwood, and fresh bagels to rosemary chicken, lavender, and apple pieâe"as she falls in love, learns to smell from scratch, and starts, once again, to cook.

Publisher: New York : Ecco, 2011
Edition: 1st ed,
ISBN: 0061915319
Branch Call Number: 612.86 B6195s 2011
Characteristics: x, 304 p. ;,22 cm


From Library Staff

A budding chef who was robbed of her sense of smell after a car accident chronicles her quest, from a New Jersey flavor lab to a French perfume school, to understand and overcome her condition and rediscover the joy of smell.

Oh, my! What would it be to lose a sense? Some may believe that getting by without the sense of scent would be doable. Maybe. Maybe not. Birnbaum's story is fascinating and redemptive.

From the critics

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Dec 17, 2012
  • Pamellah rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

beautifully and intelligently written. made me think about how much we take for granted.


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