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Blind nose




Dutch chef Joke (pronounced Yok-e) Boon is successful in his profession, but even exceeded expectations by becoming a cookbook author.

Some of her cookbooks are Bonen! (Beans!), De vega optie: 50 homemade vleesvervangers.

(The vegetarian choice: 50 plant-based meals), Het mysterie van de reuk (The mystery of smell) and Koken met kleur (Cooking with color). The books feature recipes Boon had written since she was a student in 2010, including Mexican, Indian and Scandinavian dishes.

Her cooking is described as spicy or with strong flavoring. For Indian recipes, there are lots of peppers. Scandinavian dishes, on the other hand, have lots of onions, fennel, mustard, beets and horseradish.

Boon’s recipes also have less meat and slime. She eats less meat because she gets sad when she sees livestock being transported. Snails and okra are no-nos.

Whether or not friends, acquaintances and cooking lovers patronize her books or even mingle with her is another story, especially so with her handicap. Boon has no sense of smell.

With such condition among the symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019, which has killed more than a million people worldwide since its outbreak in late December last year, the fear of people who have lost their sense of smell is pretty understandable.

But there’s really nothing to worry about having close contact with Boon because she lives in The Netherlands, and people can simply buy her books online. More importantly, she has no COVID-19 and hasn’t been afflicted with it.

Boon is simply suffering from a condition called anosmia. The author lost her sense of smell when she was four after a bout with a severe cold and the removal of her tonsils.

Coming up with five cookbooks is somehow incredible, considering that those with anosmia virtually have no sense of taste, too. Doctors told her she lost 94 percent of her taste perception, so that she vaguely distinguishes sweet from salty and bitter from sour and umami.

Boon said she copes with her disability by using a facial nerve or the trigeminal nerve, which is the sensory perception in the face triggered by some food ingredient like wasabi. It is through the trigeminal nerve that Boon feels ginger, mint, mustard and pepper. Pepper and ginger are warm and tingling, while mint and horseradish are cold, according to her.

The color and sound of food also compensate for her lack of taste like the crack of a walnut, which is different from that of a hazelnut, or the crispiness of a carrot from an apple.

Boon wrote cookbooks as a way of helping others with anosmia by inspiring them since those with the condition tend to be suicidal by being alienated with the world without their sense of smell and taste.

The Dutch chef also keeps a positive outlook despite her condition. Fear of catching the coronavirus is less worrisome for her than one issue though.

“I’m always afraid I stink,” Boon told CNN.