|Lunch time with Tom and Susan.|
Free from the threat of invasion by Romans, Visigoths, Barbars and Vikings, American village homes sit comfortably apart from one another. Huddled together in mutual defense against the aforementioned guerellous passers-through, French villages ressemble small urban enclaves, all the homes sharing the defense of the village by sharing a wall.
So, when one goes by Mrs. Brown’s house,the smell or her meatloaf is long gone by the time one gets to Mrs. Smith’s and the smell of her pork roast. And it is quite a ways farther until your feet take your nose to the source of Mrs. Smith’s pork roast-- Farmer Johnson’s pigs.
Our French village is a place where smells waft about in layers, fight for aromatic dominance, and blur the lines between town and country.
They also announce the time of day as well as a clock. We awake to the indescribable smell of the river fog. You know it is there, it envelops you, but there is no describing the odor or the way it makes the morning seem to begin as if in a dream.
A dream that has you sleepily entering the bakery wondering which type of baguette has most recently come out of the oven so you can pop that smell right into your awaiting taste buds.
On leaving the bakery one can already smell the preparations for lunch at the retirement home next door. The aromas of a rich onion broth float just above a hint of sweetness that hints at cakes.
By noon we are drooling over the smells wafting over from our neighbor’s kitchen. Because we have stuck to our American routine of dinner, not lunch, serving as the day’s primary meal we have no smells to compete with those coming from the neighbor’s kitchen. We are enticed by the rich smell of lunch preparations that waft over the wall from our neighbor. She fixes lunch every day for herself and her family. It takes every bone in my body not to invite myself on over. What could she be cooking today? Hmm, I discern cabbage, garlic, a hint of walnut oil, and could that be pork cutlets or lamb stew? Will they have couscous or little pasta stars? Any chance they want to share the leftovers? And that is just my immediate neighbor. Imagine the narrow streets of our village at noon. One could feast on the odors. A new concept in dieting.
One day I could smell apples simmering, lots of them. The next day my neighbor came over with a jar of jelly and a bowl of fruit paste. They had both been made out of quince fruit, not apples after all. And so I learned a new smell. One that I will associate with lovley neighbors as I watch the fruit ripen on the quince tree next summer.
Life is full of smells that evoke a place or time or person. It’s fun to be sniffing out new odors. These too will be added to life’s experiences and illicit an ‘oh! remember.....’ when least expected.