A Food Critic Loses Her Sense of Smell

A Times restaurant critic is on a quest to regain a crucial ability after Covid-19.

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For Tejal Rao, a restaurant critic for The Times, a sense of smell is crucial to what she does. After she contracted the coronavirus, it disappeared. It felt almost instant.

Along with it, she lost her appetite. Her comfort food, roast chicken, was suddenly squishy and unappealing, and popcorn was like foam with sharp bits in it — everything about it that had been a joy was now very unpleasant.

Earlier this year, she started feeling better, but her sense of smell did not return.

“If you’re not used to it, you don't know what’s going on,” she said. “It’s almost like wearing a blindfold.”

We follow Tejal on her journey with home remedies and therapies to reclaim her sense.

On today’s episode

Tejal Rao, a California restaurant critic and columnist for The New York Times.

Background reading

Regaining a sense of smell is tedious and slow, but Tejal is using the only therapy proven to work.

Listen to our Sunday Read about how the coronavirus could precipitate a global understanding of the sense of smell, which has long been disregarded as the least important sense.

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Transcripts of each episode are available by the next workday. You can find them at the top of the page.

Tejal Rao contributed reporting.

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