The Sense of Smell - A forgotten sense
Once upon a time, the sense of smell was one of the most important for human survival as it served to help us recognize edible from poisonous food, smell or track an enemy and perceive a danger. This sense has lost importance to humans while it is still indispensable to the rest of the animal kingdom.
In history, the sense of smell was more celebrated, however. It was associated with intelligence, intuition and premonition. The Romans, for instance, believed that wit was a prophetic capability and they called it "naso", or NOSE. In Latin, a "sagax" was someone who had a fine, particularly acute sense of smell. In short, a wise or clever person was one with a good nose.
"Smell immediately tells you without mistake what you need to know; there are no words, no types of information more precise than what the nose receives. " - Italo Calvino, (Under the Jaguar Sun).
The sense of smell is one to be recognized and appreciated! It is one to learn how to use!
Did you know...?
- The human olfactory sense is able to recognize thousands of odors. It is difficult to identify odors, not because the nasal receptors don't work properly, but because the sense of smell is a sense that we train little and we are not used to associating a name with that which we perceive.
- Our olfactory memory is more powerful than both our visual and auditory memories: olfactory memories can remain intact for even 30 years, unlike those visual or tactile which on an average last up to 5 years.
- We can only remember 5% of what we saw 5 months ago, in comparison to the 35% of what we smelled.
- Odors or aromas can evoke memories and emotions related to them in a powerful and intuitive way. This is because our olfactory receptors are in direct contact with the limbic system, responsible for the emotional sphere (this is not the case with visual, auditory or tactile receptors).
- Odors or aromas can activate the release of chemical substances in our brain (for example serotonin) with effects on our mood.
- Odors stimuate the imagination.
Why train the olfactory memory?
Our sense of smell is one of the hidden abilities we have, but we that we are unaware of. We use only 1% of our olfactory sense's capabilities. Our sense of smell is a bit like an iceberg, where the used/visible (explicit) portion is only a small part of the total.
Training your sense of smell is therefore important because:
- The use of our sense of smell improves quality of life and awareness of the experiences we live.
- Smelling specific odors can at times help elevate our mood and fight depression, sometimes associated with a decay of the olfactory receptors.
- Our sense of SMELL is the most powerful and important tool we have to taste food and drink. The olfactory sense permits us to perceive odors through the nose, as well as mouth aromas which are retro-nasally sensed via the canal that connects the nose to the mouth (see illustration below).
- Our sense of smell helps to broaden our sphere of influence: to influence and not be influenced.
- Our sense of smell helps to anchor us in our memory and fight the pathologies related to it.
How to Train your Sense of Smell
Our olfactory memory can be trained and therefore improved considerably with practice over time.
TasterPlace AROMAS collections are the ideal tool for those who want to train their sense of smell and approach the world of tasting and cooking in an easy and fun way!
Aroma kits, now available in 4 English versions, Red Wine, White Wine, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Chocolate, are essential for learning about the world of the foods and drink that interest you the most. Each collection contains 12 samples of olfactory aromas and an easy and concise publication that provides the fundamental information needed to discover the most important characteristics of the products and how to taste them.
Click here to discover the English-language range of TasterPlace products now available.