The Independent Food Festival and Awards, hosted by TasteEverything.org
As I have written before, the loss of my sense of smell affects my taste. The soft subtleties of flavor so imbedded in every eating experience are often lost to my largely scentless palate. My olfactory neurons have been working diligently since the accident; certain scents have been returning. And as a result, my eating habits have changed, focusing ever so much more on what I can taste. I would bath in salsa if that wouldn’t be gross; the feeling of spicy is wonderful in the muted field of my mouth. Anything with rosemary, thyme or citrus. Coffee, cinnamon and wine. (Yes, my brain seems to have its priorities straight. It knows what’s important to restore). I can smell soap, shampoo and laundry; I would probably eat them too if that didn’t mean a slow and uncomfortable death. The most important, however, is my reestablished ability to smell chocolate. Without smell, chocolate is nothing more than a texture, the true flavor floating off into the netherworld of damaged neurons. Though it is not any huge lifestyle change for me to eat a healthy daily dose of chocolate, its consistently whole flavor means all that much more now.
I don’t think there could be a more perfect scent to have remained intact. I just moved to NYC. I am confused about my future. I’m starting some temporary waitress work today and the heating system is all out of whack in my apartment. If there were ever a time for chocolate, it is now. Luckily, I have discovered the perfect bar of chocolate. And, believe me, I have done some extensive chocolate tasting in the last few months. Not only is it delicious, interesting, and made by a company that values fine ingredients and inventing creative new taste combinations, but it is artfully constructed with components that sing magnificently well for those who cannot smell.
Vosges Haut Chocolate’s ‘Barcelona Bar’; hickory smoked almonds, fleur de sel gray sea salt, and dark milk chocolate.
The sea salt is imbedded in careful, subtle yet tasteful discretion throughout the chocolate. Without smell, taste buds in general have full ability to register ‘salty’ ‘sweet’ ‘bitter’ and ‘sour’. The salt cuts through the already sweet, slightly bitter overtones of the chocolate. There hickory smoked almonds, small bits, are scattered throughout, providing perfect texture. In the midst of the soft melt of the chocolate, there are the satisfying crunches spread in each bite. Salty crunches, excommunicating any feeling of boredom some less thoughtful chocolate bars may have the tendency to inspire. It is an excellent quality dark milk chocolate, not too sweet, not too hard or soft. It melts quietly on the tongue. At least twice, more likely thrice or more times in any given day, I reach for a small square of the Barcelona Bar. I seem to consistently have one stored in my pocketbook, always there when just a little shot of deep, rich sweetness will get me by. And not just any dark, rich sweetness; it is one that caters to best of every viable taste and smell I still have intact. It is a solid bar of perfection. And in honor of the 2006 Independent Food Festival, I name the Vosges ‘Barcelona Bar’ the Best Possible Nourishment for a Girl with Largely Impaired Olfactory Neurons: A Perfect Combination of Taste, Texture, and Discernible Scent.