Looking for a Christmas recipe for someone who has lost their sense of taste as a result of COVID-19? Top chef Marcelo Ballardin from Ghent, along with a Dutch hands-on expert in the loss of taste and smell, has developed a festive recipe for people who have contracted coronavirus. It allows them to taste flavours despite the loss of their sense of smell. The recipe consists of a specific combination of ingredients and textures that can provide a certain amount of culinary enjoyment, even if you’ve lost your sense of smell. It is available online for free, along with a YouTube video in which Marcelo Ballardin explains how to prepare the dish.
One of the most significant symptoms of Covid-19 is a loss of taste and smell. Sad news that hits home extra-hard when you consider the elaborate spreads prepared at this time of the year. This is why rising Belgian gastronomy star Marcelo Ballardin has joined forces with Kirsten Jaarsma, chairperson of the Dutch anosmia association know as Reuksmaakstoornis.nl. Together, they’ve developed a recipe especially for people who have contracted Covid-19.
Cooking and science
“When you’re affected by anosmia, your perception of taste is limited because your sense of smell is responsible for 80% of the flavours you taste. If you don’t have a sense of smell, your flavour focus has to shift towards the textures that your mouth can feel and the basic flavours that your tongue can taste. It is therefore still possible to really enjoy your meal,” says Kirsten Jaarsma, chairperson of association Reuksmaakstoornis.nl.
“Anosmia changes our smell sensory cells and makes it hard for us to recognise aromas, smells or foods. This in particular is one of the symptoms often seen in patients with Covid-19. Flavour is perceived in 3 ways using your nose, tongue and oral sensitivity. So if you lose your sense of smell, the other two have to make up for it. This means that we have to use mainly colourful ingredients with structure that stimulate the tongue and leave a pleasant sensation in your mouth. We’ve put together a list of ingredients that can activate the olfactory receptors even in patients affected by anosmia, like red peppers, croutons or elements with a sour note.
Rediscover those festive flavours
Behind this idea is a desire to ensure that everyone has a flavoursome festive season, despite the raging health crisis and government restrictions. Marcelo Ballardin, Michelin-star chef and owner of OAK restaurant, adds,
“We all have a role to play in this coronavirus crisis. To me, it’s important that we help each other in whatever way we can. And for me that means trying to bring people happiness from my kitchen. The pandemic has stolen from us a Christmas with family and friends, but it can’t take away our Christmas dinner. So, I hope that you like my ravioli stuffed with lobster and eel. Served with a tomato and chilli compote and delicate butter sauce.
This recipe was created by request of De Morgen for the benefit of its readers before it was eventually released online for free. A video, featuring Marcelo Ballardin preparing the meal himself, is also making the rounds on YouTube.