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Friday, June 3, 2011

Write With Me: Making Scents of Butter and Onions

What do your favorite scents call to mind? Home, hearth, kith and kin? (Turns out both my kith and kin have uh, a decidedly Cilantro-esque thing going on.)

Have you ever been taken away from the everyday world by a mere whiff of something delicious?

I'm meandering down the street in Carrboro, perfectly, I mean perfectly, content - minding my P's and Q's and suddenly find my nose wandering off. Fragrances flounce wildly all around. Where are they? What are they? I stop. But my husband, Rich, if he is with me just keeps on walking.  He has a blind nose, as I call it.  Except where wine is concerned. Who knew?

Scent does take you back, and we've heard it time and time again. Marcel Proust made Madeleine's his calling card cookie. I think the reptilian brain is at work here. Scents cut through all the layers of protection standing guard and brings us right down to our knees; face to face with our strongest primal emotions.

Here are a few of my touch-stone aromas - what are yours?

Hot white vinegar recalls my childhood kitchen table covered with newspaper. Coffee cups are full to the brim with wild colors - and my brother, Jeremy and I are using those ridiculous wire holders to dip hot hard boiled eggs for Easter while Nana tells us to try dipping them in two different colors.
The minute I smell sauteing onions I am late to class, holding my toque in place as I run up to Roth Hall at the CIA. And hickory smoke means Charcuterie Block and Chef Jacques de Chanteloup. The world of Pates, Gallantines, and Balantines!
Frying seafood means I am filling the seafood buffet line at the Sea Pines Inn on Hilton Head Island, my externship days.
Asian scents on the street with traffic exhaust means walking in Chinatown NYC with my oldest son, Erick, in the backpack, while Jaryd, our youngest, snoozes in the frontpack. Bamboo steamers and Woks sizzle in the windows.
And Gardenias (Okay I know this isn't exactly a food smell, but) always call up having an exotic tropical dinner with Rich at the Kona Kai Restaurant which back in the 70's was in the Marriott Hotel on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia, as well as being in the garden with Nana on my wedding day.

But back to the Carrboro walk. I run to catch up with Rich, who is turning the next corner. I bump into him, and he turns holding a gardenia and a handful of just picked mulberries. Awww.
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