An aspiring chef loses her sense of smell
August 31st, 2011
09:15 AM ET
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Molly Birnbaum is the author of "Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way". She was awarded the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship for Arts and Culture from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and blogs at My Madeleine.

I had never really tried to walk with crutches before, let alone cook while resting on them. But one morning in late October 2005, two months after the car accident that left me with a broken pelvis, fractured skull, and a busted knee, I entered the kitchen one wood-clipped step at a time.

I decided to bake because baking seemed to rely on measurement rather than improvisation, and butter cookies seemed a simple enough choice. I decided to add chocolate, to see if I could taste it. And a pinch of cayenne because at least that I knew I’d be able to feel. Before the accident, I had been training to be a chef and was only months away from my starting date at the Culinary Institute of America, but the kitchen felt strange and unfamiliar in that first crutch-bound day. I didn’t know how to operate without my sense of smell.

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Filed under: Books • Culture • Think

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