A reader asked, "Describe the smells refered to in your piece Memories.."
The Smells In Grandma’s Kitchen
I didn't know how old my Grandma was. “Old” was a relative thing to a 7 year-old. I only knew that she was a lot older than my dad, who in my mind's eye was pretty old. But obviously old had something to do with smell, because things just smelled different at my Grandma’s house. You may expect me to account memories of the special aroma of freshly baked bread and the spicy fragrance of cinnamon rolls or some other pleasing aroma. But there wasn't much bread baking at Grandma’s. No, at her house bread came from within a wrapper that claimed to "build bodies 12 ways".
There was a natural smell at Grandma’s. I guess that was because much of the food on her table came out of the garden in the back yard. She grew up during a time when shopping at the supermarket was an exceptional occurrence. Folks grew the food they ate. The remarkable thing about that is that you witnessed the middle stage of food preparation.
Your senses were involved in the preparation. You heard the green beans being snapped and the husks being shucked. I remember watching her snapping green beans in her lap on an apron and then carrying them to the sink cradled in that apron. The smells from the back porch drifted into the kitchen. A mixture of smells lingered there, including the musky smell of the earth; onions hung from a string open for the breeze to stir their fragrance and enfold it with the others; the slightly pungent smell of okra and beans freshly cut and snapped; and the earthy smell of a burlap sack of potatoes that were still growing stringy roots.
Food took a little longer to prepare in Grandma’s kitchen. It seems that the smell of something cooking was always present. Although I don't remember her baking loaf bread, she did make homemade biscuits for breakfast every morning; and we'd have homemade rolls at dinner. The breakfast biscuits were made from scratch and the smell of canned apple butter, peach marmalade, and plum jam mixed with the hot spread butter still causes my mouth to water. I remember her pies. We always had desert at Grandma’s. Mincemeat, pecan, apple, and my favorite pumpkin were always sprinkled with a little cinnamon and guaranteed a place on her table. At Grandma’s there wasn't just one pie. No, when she baked pies she'd bake two or three, which meant you were always guaranteed a generous slice at her table.
There was no need for those little baskets of pot-pourri. The herbs, mints, and spices used in Grandma’s kitchen wafted throughout the entire house. Those pleasant smells would blend together with whatever was cooking or baking in her kitchen to create an aroma that will never be packaged in any retail store. Maybe it was because I was just 7 years old; but I remember that things always tasted better at her table. They just had to because they smelled so good.
I suppose that is why I remember it being such a special treat to go to Grandma’s during the holidays. Her kitchen was in full production at those special times. Although I miss the experience of her kitchen, I look forward to the times that we gather as a family today. My Grandma passed on many years ago. The memories of her and her kitchen will never fade. They have just taken a new form. Because even though they are the memories of a child, they have become a part of the man I am today. I’ve changed roles over the years. I am now the Grandpa; and my own grandchildren scurry through our house. My wife prepares special dishes just for them just like my Grandma did for me. However, to me it just doesn't smell like Grandma’s; but it does to them. It warms my heart when I hear them say. "I like to come to your house, Grandpa."