Are you one of those people who savor the smell of the air after it rains, salty ocean breezes, new books, newsprint, roses, and aftershave? In the spring I notice the fragrance of Daphne bushes near the library, freshly-mown grass, and clothes that have hung outside. I also smile at the balm of a baby’s milky breath, baby shampoo, Jergens classic cherry-almond hand lotion, a mild sunburn (yes, I know it’s not healthy), and a hot iron on a shirt (a rare scent!)
Do you notice the pervading aura of restaurants you pass? Some, I’ve heard, spew aromas into the air to lure in customers. Works on me! I don’t need a sign to tell me when I’m driving by a place that offers burgers and fries, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, or East Indian food, and I may be tempted to stop, whether or not my stomach is sending hunger signals.
I also enjoy the essence of breakfast—coffee, bacon and eggs, pancakes, Maple syrup. Even the smell of toast makes it from a neighbor’s house to our slightly-open window in the early morning.
Growing up, I loved to catch a whiff from the kitchen—chili and cornbread, pot roast, split pea soup, spaghetti, tuna-noodle casserole, smelt, liver and onions (I’m a fan), tacos, cold fried chicken, potato salad, and home-grown, sliced tomatoes. My mom makes the best oatmeal cookies, not to mention peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies, and peppernuts at Christmastime.
But it’s not just sweets I savor.The tang of fresh asparagus perks me up, as does broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, peas, artichokes, beets, baked potatoes, and freshly-husked corn, accompanied by the unmistakable bouquet of corn silk.
When I worked in a maze of cubicles, I noticed the tang of citrus in the air when someone peeled an orange or a tangerine. I love the fruitiness of ripe bananas, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots, apples, kiwis, and avocados. Sometimes I catch myself sniffing a pineapple, passion fruit, or mango, which conjures up memories from far-away places with strange sounding names, which I called, at one time or another, home.
Talk about exotic spices! When eating a dish someone else cooked, I like to guess the seasoning it contains. Can you identify—using only your nose—vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, anise, fennel, black pepper (prepare to sneeze), oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, mint, basil, and parsley?
Walk into a movie theater and close your eyes as you smell the hot buttered popcorn and warm pretzels. What else do you savor? I’m sure I have radar for all things chocolate! Have you been in See’s Candy shop lately? Yummm.
Step inside an old-fashioned bakery where various types of bread are baking, alongside cinnamon rolls, donuts, biscuits and scones, fruit pies, pumpkin, lemon meringue, and pecan pies. If you’re like me, the scent alone brings to mind the unique texture and delight of each delicacy.
All this to say that some people, who don’t have a keen sense of smell, aren’t tuned in to food aromas. To them, warm garlic bread is like the iocane powder in The Princess Bride—odorless! Thus, they don’t spend time processing the olfactory input that, theoretically, has them salivating and on the way to impulsive, rather than mindful, eating. Know what I mean?