Using all of your senses is what lets you enjoy a good meal. Textures, aromas, and taste. However, for many people across the world, COVID-19 has robbed them of two important senses: taste and smell.
British Chef Ryan Riley realized the loss of those two senses was similar to one he had seen in cancer patients and wanted to help.
Riley and his co-author Kimberley Duke, are familiar with taste loss, after both of them lost their parents to cancer, the trained chefs wanted to find a way to give back.
Together, Duke and Riley co-founded Life Kitchen, a free cooking school for people who have lost their sense of taste and sense of smell due to cancer. Over the course of four years, the pair has helped over 4,000 cancer patients renew their joy of cooking. Applying that knowledge, the pair developed a cookbook for people who suffer from the long-term effects of COVID-19 called "Taste & Flavour."
Covid-related changes in taste and smell have some distinctive features
"A lot of people are saying that they had covid and their flat mate didn't, and their flat mate finds the food so intense," Riley said. "We have been working with cancer patients with taste loss for years, so we took the main principles, [and] all the things that we knew about taste loss.
The duo conducted research with Dr. Barry Smith, a professor and researcher at the University of London, one of the first people to research the long-term effects of COVID-19.
"The science behind the book is very emerging and very, very, new and so much of what we know has come from a research paper by Dr. Barry Smith," Riley said. "We took a group of 9,000 people and we reviewed what their symptoms were with COVID-19 and how they have been affected."
Research shows olfactory conditions can actually affect your physical and mental health.
Riley and Duke developed over 300 recipes and avoided things that are normally associated with creating flavor, like garlic, onions, roasted meat, roasted nuts, and eggs.
Some of the technical terms for the loss of your sense of smell and taste are Anosmia, Parosmia, and Ageusia. Anosmia is the loss of your sense of smell, Parosmia is the distortion of your sense of smell, while Ageusia is the loss of your sense of taste.
"We knew those things were a big part of what COVID-19 has caused, yet no one knew why they were an issue," Riley said.
Riley says they worked to make sure the science behind their recipes had a solid foundation.
"Trying to insure you have as much flavor in there, without actually being detrimental to the fact that people taste things in different ways right now," Riley said.
Riley says they wanted to make sure they created a book that would resonate with people and not be intimidating.
The chefs started with 300 recipes and sent them out to tasters to make sure they were good. By the time they were done, they had crafted 18 recipes catered towards people with olfactory conditions.
The book is available online for free at www.lifekitchen.co.uk