How a gastronome who lost his sense of smell is helping Italians regain their own abilities
When Italy’s self-described “super taster” Michele Crippa lost his sense of smell after contracting Covid-19 in March 2020, he felt devastated. The expert who could once identify the scent of champagne in raw coffee beans could do little more than describe a cup of coffee as hot. Now, Crippa is helping others like him redevelop their palate by connecting forgotten smells with intimate memories, The New York Times reports. The loss can be especially devastating for those who work in the food industry. With the help of food science professors, Crippa organized a therapeutic course that focuses on recalling memories associated with smells in the hopes of recalibrating neural pathways gone haywire because of the virus. Based on research that suggests smell connects with the brain’s hypothalamus—the region that’s critical in controlling emotions—subjects are coaxed to remember the taste, smell, or feel of ingredients such as nuts and mint leaves while in a sensory lab. Crippa himself hasn’t yet fully regained his sense of smell, but there have been encouraging signs. When he picked up the scent of coconut in his shower gel, he sobbed with joy.