Smells and things
I have a lot of time to think while cutting the grass. Perhaps too much. Even though I whine about grass cutting, I do enjoy the smell of it. I like the smell of cut grass. I like the smell when I cut the wild thyme or the bay leaves. Each time we cut, Harry (the lawn mower) and I probably destroy enough rosemary to make a Whole Foods produce manager worry about his bottom line and quarterly bonus. (LOOK AT THAT WASTE!!) There is a weed that I cut that has sort of a soapy smell. The clover is blooming now and just walking through it distributes the smell. We have passed lilac season but soon it will be lavender time. All around me are smells. But the best is when I take the dog out at night and walk back into the kitchen. Hmmmm! Usually the scent of cooking whatever we had for dinner still lingers and hits me freshly when I walk back in. (When my friend, Nina, was looking for a place to buy in the Northern Virginia area, I would receive reports about properties that went like this…’well it was clean, but they’re Asian/Indian/fill in the blank with anything but Italian.’ ‘How could you tell?’ ‘The cooking smells. You’ll never get those out!’ And in her mind, that was the end of that property. She is also the one, who no matter what the season or temperature, routinely throws open all the windows of her house for 2 or 3 hours at least once or twice a week. A very Italian thing to do and something that I see done here all the time.)
I recently read The Scent Trail by Celia Lyttelton. Demonstrating a clear example of elitist ideas, this woman went to a perfumer and formulated a personal scent. Then she set out to travel to all the places that the components of the scent originate from and wrote about each ingredient. It was a fairly interesting book. I did have a problem at the end when she met the perfumer again in a public restaurant and they both proceeded to pass back and forth all the different scents of her perfume. Had I have been present I would have had to have left. I have a fairly fast reaction to strong scents and perfumes and become quite uncomfortable. I couldn’t believe that they just did this in the middle of a public space. As bad as smoking if you ask me.
The book about scents that I want to read is Season to Taste by Molly Birnbaum. She was about to start culinary school when she was hit by a car. A result of that accident was that she lost her sense of smell and taste for a long time. She went on to write about the sense of smell and also has a blog that I follow. http://mollysmadeleine.blogspot.it/ Her book is just being released in paperback, the preferred way of Expats to get books (it’s a weight thing you know). So I am hoping that if it doesn’t turn up in one of my libraries soon I will be able to ask someone to bring it to me.
In the meantime I did receive as a birthday present from my friend Dinah, Simple Asian Meals by Nina Simonds. This Nina, not my friend Nina, is a really interesting woman. I think we are the same age. After high school graduation, instead of following like a sheep the path to college, she picked up and went off to live with an Asian family in Taiwan. A pretty gutsy move for a young woman in the early 70s. I have always admired her style of cooking and use of flavors. This is the second of her cook books that I own here. From the great pictures and the ingredients of the recipes I can just smell how good things from here will be soon.
So now I am excited to be making new wonderful smells in the kitchen. And I am happy that my friend Jim has benefitted so much from his recent surgery to his nose. He told me over the phone last night, “It’s been a long time since I could walk in to a restaurant and say ‘It smells really good in here.’” I can’t imagine what it would be like not to smell food cooking. How would you be able to do it?
Anyway, I’ll leave you with this