I must have been Indian or a 16th-century traveling Brit in a past life because there’s something about the smell of curry that makes me feel like I’m home.
It’s a relatively new smell for me. I’m a Norwegian from Minnesota. We don’t put curry on boiled rutabagas or lutefisk. My husband introduced me to curry when we met 12 years ago, but I rarely cooked with it until last year when I discovered I really like Indian food. Its taste is so calming and homey.
I made curried bean soup tonight. I sautéed leeks and onions and garlic and curry for 8 minutes, and it was 8 minutes of total nasal heaven. Standing in the kitchen in a weird scent orgasm, I thought about other foods that make me feel…I don’t know…safe? Happy? Can smells make us happy? I guess so if I’m mentioning orgasms! *giggle*
There are obvious comfort food smells like turkey on Thanksgiving, ham on Easter, duck or goose on Christmas. But I’m thinking more of the everyday.
I love the smell of sautéing garlic because it reminds me of when Larry would cook me my favorite scallops dinner and I’d curl up on the couch listening to classical music and reading a magazine or book. I simply loved those moments.
I love the smell of vegetable beef soup. Even though I don’t beef, I make this soup for Larry and the smell takes me back to my mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens. They always found ways to make due with what they had – some beef cubes, a few root vegetables, a bay leaf. Amazing what you can make with so little.
I love the smell of brownies fresh from the oven. Not homemade brownies. Duncan Hines brownies. Mom used to make them at the last minute when I told her it was my turn to bring treats to some church youth function. God forbid I gave her advanced warning, but she always had a box of brownie mix on hand.
I love the smell and sound of popcorn popping. Every Saturday growing up, my mom would make popcorn and the family would watch the Carol Burnett Show. Thirty-five years later, when I stick a bag of popcorn in the microwave, I still think of those days.
It’s not just food smells that make me feel safe. There’s a type of incense I burn that always calms me for whatever reason. In fact, I’m going to go burn one now. Even though the house smells of curry and I feel warm and safe, that incense sounds really good right now, too.