Image via Life Kitchen
One of the known effects of COVID-19 is the loss or distortion of the sense of taste or smell, and this might even last indefinitely. As such, some patients who have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease might not be able to enjoy food for a while, if not indefinitely.
Two chefs from the UK, Ryan Riley and Kimberley Duke, have thus created a free cookbook to help patients experience food in a pleasurable way again. Taste & Flavour features 18 recipes crafted for people whose sense of smell and taste has been affected by the coronavirus.
In 2019, the two founded Life Kitchen, a free cooking school for cancer patients whose sense of taste has vanished. As the symptom is also apparent in some COVID-19 cases, they decided to extend their expertise into a free, well-curated cookbook for long-haulers of the coronavirus.
Riley and Duke had both lost parents to cancer. “I’d seen my mother go through all the sadness and pain of not being able to eat,” Riley told Insider. He related that taking away “one of the biggest pleasures” in life “really becomes a diminished experience.”
In developing the cookbook, it wasn’t as simple as amplifying flavors so eaters could somehow taste them. In certain instances, COVID-19 long-haulers have something called parosmia, which refers to distortion in the sense of smell rather than the loss of it. Further, scientific research indicates that 80 percent of taste is derived from smell, so an alteration in smell will affect taste perception, as well.
To some patients with parosmia, coffee can smell like sewage, and eggs, onion, garlic, roasted meat, and nuts can seem “repulsive, almost like rotting flesh,” to the olfactory senses, explained Riley.
Garlic and onion, however, are two prime ingredients in several savory dishes, so the way Riley and Duke got around to introducing a pop of umami was by introducing strong flavors like miso, mushrooms, parmesan, and soy sauce. They also sought to bring “texture and brightness to make up for the lack of depth,” engage all five basic tastes—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami—as well as looked to ignite sensations in the face and sinuses with ingredients like wasabi and horseradish.
After experimenting with almost 300 recipes, the two whittled them down to just 18. You can either get the physical recipe book for free and top up for shipping within the UK, or download a free digital copy here.
We’ve written the world’s first FREE cookbook for people experiencing taste and smell changes as a result of long covid
— Ryan Riley (@RyanRileyy) April 22, 2021