Food critic with leftover COVID-19 symptoms finds a taste for his passion … again

Local News

The list of symptoms from COVID-19 is quite lengthy — a menu, you might say.

Now a food critic in the Quad Cities has one leftover symptom he really can’t afford to have for his job.

Leo Kaalberg has been a food critic in the Quad Cities over the past year. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 three weeks ago, and it’s been tough dealing with the virus alone. But now, among the many symptoms that linger from it, Kaalberg has lost his sense of taste.

“It’s pretty miserable,” he said.

COVID-19 hit Leo Kaalberg pretty hard last month. It was a rocky road for awhile.

“It’s a day-in and day-out journey of how bad I felt and fighting temperatures, body aches, not being able to breathe very good and I had zero energy,” he said.

Kaalberg is a food critic who enjoys all the culinary options the Quad Cities offers. Testing positive for COVID-19 was bad enough. But three days later he was dealt another blow while he was eating a pineapple.

“I absolutely couldn’t taste it at all,” he said. “Really it just tasted like mush. There was no sweetness to it. Nothing.”

Panic immediately set in once Kaalberg realized he couldn’t taste any food.

“At first I was really worried about it,” Kaalberg said. “I read a few things online about different methods on how to get your taste buds back.”

His recovery has been challenging. Kaalberg has slowly regained his sense of taste, but his taste buds went through a small reset.

“Things I used to shy away from actually taste a lot better now,” he said. “Vegetables for the most part now taste absolutely amazing. Before I was more of a straight carnivore.”

Fortunately, Kaalberg’s favorite food still tastes the same: “Bacon does taste amazing,” he said. “It’s still number one.”

As his recovery continues, Kaalberg says the next step is putting himself back together.

Kaalberg says he received great community support during recovery, and some local restaurants even dropped off some of his favorite foods to enjoy.

“You get kind of a brain fog,” he said. “It’s really hard to concentrate your thoughts. You’re out of breath. I mean just eating dinner takes a lot of breath and it takes a lot of energy.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.