Eating and drinking are among the biggest pleasures in life. The flavors that make food and drink unique are for the most part due to the scents/aromas that are perceived retro nasally when the food or drink is in the mouth. The flavors that we can perceive are only 5 (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami), while the scents/aromas we can perceive are several hundred thousand. This explains why 80% of what we perceive when we eat is due to our sense of smell and if we eat with a blocked nose, what we are consuming seems flavorless.
To better enjoy what we eat and drink, it is therefore essential to train the sense of smell. The sense of smell is very powerful, but nonetheless, we rarely use it on a conscious level.
Here are 6 simple everyday steps to progress quickly with your olfactory training:
1) Taste and smell as many things as possible in everyday life around you. Give yourself small breaks from the daily frenzy to savor and reflect on the sensations and memories that food evokes in you.
2) Compare multiple foods and drinks of the same type, focusing on the differences you perceive: try two or more different coffee blends; try two or more different types of tomatoes; two or more apples; etc., etc. In this way, it will be easier to focus on the aromatic differences.
3) Keep a notebook to write down the sensations that the scents and flavors evoke in you.
4) Build your vocabulary for describing scents. Remember that there aren’t many adjectives to describe the particular way something smells. When describing a scent we usually borrow adjectives used for sight/touch/hearing: for example, a scent that is clean, pungent, soft…,…. This is why it is important that you build your own vocabulary to help you describe a smell in your own words, through your personal observations that will help you to remember it. For example: “Bergamot reminds me of lemon with floral notes.”
5) Clean your "nose" of strong smells and flavors. These can saturate your nose and keep you from smelling some scents. To recover the sense of smell it is sufficient to breathe fresh air or a strong and familiar scent such as coffee.
6) Train your sense of smell blindly, regularly (two or three times a week). Without the help of sight, the sense of smell is much more stressed and it is difficult to recognize even the most familiar scent, such as that of an apple. To train blindly you can put herbs, spices, fruit, flowers, and more in cups and with your eyes closed, smell each one. You can also use TasterPlace aromas, our collections of aroma samples in mini bottles.
Start training your sense of smell and you will automatically pay attention to the smells and flavors that surround you. You will memorize them and recognize them more easily and your daily life will be enhanced as well.