I never travel without my CPAP machine lest my snoring wakes my host’s entire household. Upon returning home from say my brother’s house in Iowa, or my friend’s home in Albuquerque, I get a little memento when I turn in – the CPAP machine has picked up the scent of the place I visited and for a minute or two I am reminded of the lovely stay just concluded. Our sense of smell quietly stores away memories of scents and our emotional reaction to them. We all know the warm feeling we get on Thanksgiving day with the smell of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie. I never tire of the aroma of fresh coffee in the morning. Even cinnamon bread in the toaster makes me inwardly smile.
As Autumn approaches I’ve begun to notice the smell of dried leaves, the sweet, almost medicinal scent of zinnias and dahlias, and of course the cleansing smell of rain. This puts me in mind of fall cooking. I made my favorite Carrot Cake recipe the other day – too hot to bake in the summer but perfect in the fall. It’s time to start trying out those new recipes that might be served on Thanksgiving or Christmas (yes, Christmas!). Perhaps a Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake for Halloween? How about my friend Susan’s sweet/savory Fantastic Raw Cranberry Relish as a variation on traditional cranberry sauce? On Saturday I plan to audition a turkey recipe featured in the latest edition of Fine Cooking: Maple-Brined Turkey Breast with Mushroom Gravy.
So much of our enjoyment of food and food preparation involves our sense of smell and memory. I can’t wait to get started on this year’s Autumn scents.