Our Sense of Smell

by Laura on June 20, 2017

in Blog, Featured


Aromas . . . they surround us, they ignite our hunger, they nudge our memories, and they alert us to something that just isn’t right. Smell is one of our most powerful senses, and one that it is inextricably intertwined in our souls.

Sometimes when we think about taste, we think about what goes on inside of our mouths. But, it is widely recognized that our sense of smell contributes magnificently to our perception of taste. Understanding what you are smelling gives you lots of clues as to what you are eating. If we train our sense of smell to perceive scents, think about how much more we can enjoy our foods.

Are We Losing Our Sense of Smell?

The rise of fast and processed food has contributed to the decline of our tasting palate. Because many of these foods contain chemicals and unnatural ingredients, we forget how real food smells and tastes. And, for many who have palates accustomed to these flavors, making the transition back to enjoying ‘real’ food — whole food, is a challenging one. Several years ago, I spoke with Priscilla Martel about this topic (Taste: Expanding the Palate). In the article, she wrote, “Keep in mind that smell is one of our most powerful senses. Aromas account for as much as 80% of our sense of taste.  We have a powerful smell memory that is directly tied to our emotions.  This means that an unpleasant food experience at a young age can stay with us for decades.”

But back at my home, their sense of smell and taste is alive and well. The kids burst through the door after school and can tell what I’ve been cooking. When dinner is being prepared, they know which specific dish is being made. It is more than a the simple, “Oh, we’re having spaghetti tonight,” instead, they have been known to name certain ingredients because they smell them individually.

When dinner is on the table, it is the whole experience of the senses which allow them to enjoy a much more nuanced flavor than one that might be experienced with processed foods.

sliced bread loaf 300The Bread Winner

Recently, Greg was finishing up his weekly bread baking when Nicole exclaimed, “I wish someone would make a perfume out of freshly baked bread smell.”

I knew just what she was talking about.

The kids have grown up with the smell of freshly baking bread wafting through the house. I’ve seen them get their noses close to the oven in attempt to allow all the aroma into their nostrils. I’ve heard them exclaim as they rise in the morning, “I can smell Dad’s bread in my bedroom!”

I’ve marveled at them bursting through the front door knowing just what is in the oven.

Sometimes I wish their sense of smell wasn’t so good, as they are known to comment about when dinner is in the works and they aren’t happy with what is on the menu!

Our Favorite Smells

We all have our favorites, be it coffee, gingerbread, bacon or chocolate chip cookies, and sometimes we forget that smell is an extremely important component in the process of tasting.

Tweet: “I wish fresh-baked bread would be a perfume!” Nicole -12 years old

For most of us, it is the smell which first draws us in. It calms us, it transports us to another time and place, and it is my hope that when the kids are grown and out of the house, they will continue to recreate these aromas in their own kitchen — but remember us connecting in ours.

I believe it is time to slow down and take the time to smell. Life will surely ‘taste’ much more delicious!


Here are some of our most smell-worthy recipes:

Vienna Bread


Sauteed Chicken w/ Moroccan Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce


Buttermilk Waffles


Pollo con Mojo Criollo (Chicken with Cuban marinade)



Mexican Pot Roast Tacos


Chocolate Birthday Cake






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