OLFACTORY | A COOKBOOK FOR THE SENSES - MICHELLE NICOLE GERARD
From the Author:
The aroma of roasting poblano chilies. Cinnamon and brown sugar wafting on the breeze. Candied rose petals that shimmer in the golden light, shining through bay windows that hold stories of a time before. The feeling of masa in my hands, dry and moist. Fresh masa has a very particular aroma. Strong notes of earthy soil with hints of honeyed sweetness, sprinkles of grass and flowers. The sound of onions hitting a pan with hot oil, the constant spectrum of color harvested from the garden that sat beneath my childhood home.
My hands do not remember a time where they were not creating in the kitchen. From the moment I could stand, I was in the kitchen with my grandmother. Her hands moving with a steady grace is imprinted into my being. Olfactory was born from the girl I once was, the woman I have become and the women who came before me. Generations that have lead to this exact moment in time.
It all starts with a different kind of fairy tale.
Once upon a time I was able to taste the sweet warmth of a tomato off the vine. I cooked by tasting the food as I went, relishing in the flavors blooming on my tongue. Through taste I felt intimately connected to the way food communicates. I was attached to this sense above all else.
Creating food for people was my love language, I was in awe of the way it could create unity in times of division, warmth when the world became cold. I never could have imagined what was to come.
This medium that was both my passion and my meditation, would change into a seemingly impossible task without warning.
Olfactory is a story of hope. It is a cookbook written after my diagnosis of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I am a chef that cannot taste her own food, for I am allergic to the majority of foods. I spent months curled up on a couch, away from the kitchen. Unable to envision a world where I could cook without the tasting spoon. Without feeling the flavors enlivening my taste buds.
This book is a dialogue of my journey back to the kitchen. An exploration of all the other senses that make cooking and devouring beautiful food such a timeless experience. The pages are strewn with possibility, hope and reminders that sometimes our most potent sense can be found in our remembering.
Our Olfactory holds more memories than we think. The smell of our mother’s skin, the scent of our favorite dish cooking in the oven, jasmine ripe on the air during those languid summer nights, the smell of earth underneath our fingernails after a long day of play. Scent brings us back to ourselves.
And so the adventure begins.
Photography by Jen Luce, Assistant Olivia Sanford and the love of so many, too many to list here.
This book is perfect bound, printed by an incredible indie house in Los Angeles, a book that I hope will become an heirloom. I cannot wait for you to take this cooking journey with us. xo
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