My first book, Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way, will be published by Ecco/HarperCollins in June, 2011.
Preparing to become a chef, recent college graduate Molly Birnbaum spent her nights savoring cookbooks and her days working at a Boston bistro. But shortly before starting at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, she was hit by a car, an accident that fractured her skull, broke her pelvis, tore her knee to shreds, and destroyed her ability to smell—a sense essential to cooking. Devastated, Birnbaum dropped her cooking school plans, quit her restaurant job, and sank into depression.
Season to Taste is the heartwarming story of what came next: how she picked herself up and set off on a grand quest to understand and overcome her condition. With irresistible charm and good cheer, Birnbaum explores the science of olfaction, pheromones, and Proust’s madeleine. She meets leading experts, including writer Oliver Sacks, scientist Stuart Firestein, and perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. And she visits a pioneering New Jersey flavor lab, eats at the legendary Chicago restaurant Alinea, and enrolls at a renowned perfume school in the South of France. Through Birnbaum we rediscover the joy of smell—from the pungency of cinnamon and cedarwood to the subtle beauty of fresh bagels and lavender—fall in love, and recapture a dream.