Tuesday, December 6

How Covid-positive chefs and foodies dealt with the loss of smell and taste

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Every victim looks back at their battle with COVID-19 from a different perspective. For some, it’s a near-death experience, while others just get away with a mild fever, but for the majority, it’s the loss of smell and taste that marks the beginning of the battle. Though this loss is just a signal for most, for foodies and chefs, it’s a major blow. After all, these senses define them. We spoke to a few chefs and a food writer about their personal experiences. Read on…‘Dishes with an emotional connect, like luchi-mangsho, now seem unfamiliar’We’ve been hearing for some time now that loss of taste and smell is one of the lead indicators of COVID-19. When my wife caught it, she lost those senses immediately. I followed a week later, but didn’t fully lose those senses. Eventually, I had to be hospitalised for a life-threatening condition. It’s now, more than two weeks after returning home, that I’ve lost the sense of taste. Common dishes that evoke emotions — luchi, maacher jhol, mangsho etc — seem unfamiliar. It’s a frustrating struggle to get that same signal sent to brain that will release the happy hormones. The food that tastes salty to others, I’m finding normal. It’s like the fine calibration of my taste buds is incomplete and it’s very disappointing. I’m not getting the kick out of spicy food and it’s a never-ending quest for satisfaction. I’m in close touch with my doctor and plan to give it some more time.— Anindya Sundar Basu, food writer & food photographer‘Couldn’t handle awadhi food; lived on simple maacher jhol’

I had a sore throat and felt uneasy, so I got myself tested. The report came positive. But I lost my sense of taste and smell on the fourth day. I realised it when I couldn’t smell the brand of sanitiser I use. And I use it because I love the smell.
Though the senses slowly returned from the ninth day, I didn’t work or cook for more than three weeks. I’d simply order in and enjoy food meant for COVID patients that included a simple Bengali-style maacher jhol and rice. During that time I couldn’t even stand the sight of Awadhi food. But as I didn’t have fever, I had a good appetite and was constantly craving for chicken dishes. In those three weeks, I maintained a balanced diet to take care of my nutritional needs and included a lot of fruits on the menu.‘Smoothies with chia seeds & chickew stew helped me recover’
While the COVID experience differs person-to-person, I lost almost 80% of my voice and couldn’t swallow anything due to a very severe throat infection. My sense of smell was completely gone and since taste has a lot to do with smells, I lost it too. I had fever for eight days and it left me so weak that my jaws used to hurt when I chewed. So I asked my mother to make me smoothies with fruits and chia seeds and they are helping me recover even now. I’m still unable to digest anything fried or overly spicy. Chicken stew with vegetables is helping me a lot. I also have two eggs and peanut butter every day. Moreover, fluids like coconut water, sweet lime and ORS are good to negate the side-effects of the medications. COVID also leaches out your minerals, so it’s advisable to have a lot of greens. A friend suggested that I should try smelling gandharaj lemon and that’s slowly helping me regain my sense of smell.

Developed a sweet tooth; can only smell strong aromas, taste spicy food’

I lost my sense of taste and smell a day after going down with COVID-19. I was self-isolating and was having a home-cooked meal when I felt that it tasted too bland. I added extra lemon and pepper, but still couldn’t taste anything. Then I took a pinch of salt and to my horror, it was the same. I still haven’t recovered these senses fully though it has been more than a month now. I can only smell strong aromas and can smell and taste only pungent and spicy food. I even tried this burnt orange and brown sugar hack I got on the Internet to get my sense of taste back. But didn’t get the promised results.
In the meantime, my appetite kept growing. I suddenly developed a sweet tooth. I don’t remember having so much food before and being a foodie, I can’t survive only on homemade food. So, my team from the café would send me nutritious dishes every day. In that way, my diet was balanced.

Source: Times of India

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