Horatio, Michael, Tony, Grissom--they're all fond of saying that scent is the sense most closely tied to memory. (I actually learned this in school, but I thought the TV drama reference would give it more credibility.) Last year, I wrote here about the hands of a housewife, thoughts inspired by the food smells that cling to my skin after cooking. Though it seems--and is--commonplace, I intended the references as true compliments. There is more beauty and worthiness in the hard-working hands of our mothers than in the lily-white (or, now, sun-kissed bronze) paws of all the actresses and models Hollywood can procure.
Lately (at least, if you don't count this weekend), it seems that I've been cooking more often and cooking more consistently. It's not like I've ever only cooked occasionally, so I'm not sure why I think this. . .maybe because I've been cooking breakfast several times a week, or because we've eaten out slightly less often of late. At any rate, it seems that my kitchen is constantly in use. Consequently, my house always smells like food. When I come in the front door--or, more frequently, when I come up from the basement--the scent of breakfast waiting to be eaten, lunch heating, last night's dinner, or freshly baked bread for the coming month greets me cheerfully. It always reminds me of my grandmothers' houses. I'm not sure why this is. My mom cooked, too, so it's not like I only associate home-cooked meals with my grandparents. Perhaps it's the age of our house--the smells of fresh food are intermingled with that peculiar staying quality of the air in a house that's been around for almost a hundred years. Actually, I think this house is a good bit older than either of my grandparents' homes. Perhaps it's just that my kitchen looks like it stepped out of a magazine from my grandmas' early-married years. Or perhaps it's the dichotomy of scents--the switch from our unfinished, dusty basement to the brightly lit, warm kitchen. Both my grandmothers have laundry rooms more or less off the kitchen that are concrete-floored areas just before you go outside (our basement has a walk-out exit, also), while my mother has an indoor, tiled utility room. In any case, I relish the likeness that rushes to mind every time I come up from the washer.