Monday, October 23, 2006

I can't smell food, so I can't taste food

It's hard to explain to people why I cannot taste anything that I eat. When I tell them it's because I can't smell anything they cannot grasp why that affects my sense of taste. I usually leave it at, "You know how food is tasteless when you have a cold?" That usually drives the message home that your sense of taste is really derived from you ability to smell. As you chew food or drink liquid, it's actually the aroma from this that is getting to your brain.

They get confused though when I tell them that yes, I can "taste" salt, sweet, sour etc. Or that if I eat a hot pepper, yes, I do feel the burning sensation. But for instance, if I were to eat a piece of cake, I could taste/feel the sweetness of the sugar on the vanilla frosting but I am unable to actually taste the vanilla itself. Or if I eat a sour apple, I can feel the sourness but cannot actually taste the apple. It can be frustrating and I usually don't even say anything when someone says, "Wow that was a great meal, how was yours?" I usually just say it was really good.


Stephanie Webb said...

Hey Mike - I found your blog while I was reading the Wikipedia page on anosmia. I myself was born without a sense of smell and often have a hard time explaining to people the whole taste thing. I've read a good analogy to use is the rainbow. While everyone else can taste the whole rainbow (a combo of smell and taste), we can only taste the rainbow in black and white - we're missing the aroma which makes it more colorful. That might be a little bit easier for people to understand :)

krista drew said...

i've never been able to smell either, so in my mind i can actually "taste" food. the simplest way i explain it to people (and yes, they still are amazed/confused), is that i can taste what my tongue tastes (salty, sweet, bitter, sour), but don't get the aroma, so i'm not able to distinguish ingredients, and can identify food based on texture and appearance. sounds like since you know what you're missing, you've probably had a much harder time with it. anyhow, thanks for sharing. it's amazing how many people don't know anything about anosmia.