The Smells of a Kitchen

It’s a simple trick really.

When I’ve moved into a new house or apartment, and there was that feeling of uneasiness that comes from being in a new location. The nuances of my living arrangements were yet to be discovered and the neighborhood is still unknown to me. How did I relieve the anxiety the came from this scenario?

I made a dish that required the frying of garlic and onions.

When the aroma filled the kitchen and then wafted into neighboring rooms, something happened that kicked any “new home anxiety” out of the door.

The aromas of cooking are the added benefit to each meal. They do more than simply add to the flavor and taste of the meal. They transform locations into something…more.

Perhaps it is simply a version of making a space my own. When a cat rubs their head upon the closest leg/couch/corner of a wall, they are leaving a scent mark to remind others that this is their territory. When we cook in the kitchen, do we unknowingly perform the same task? Do we define our territories by the remnant aromas left behind by the cakes and cookies baked, ribs and drumsticks braised, and onions and garlic fried?

The sense of smell is a powerful tool, especially in regard to food. Dr. Alan Hirsch reported that it was the smell of certain food that increased sexual…ah…appetite, rather than the urban tales of eating oysters and chocolates. Apparently if you want to turn on a man, bake a pumpkin pie and leave some lavender lying around.

Now if aromas can be proven to affect sexual response, can they also affect the comfort one feels in their home? Would the smell of freshly baked bread make a person feel more at ease? Would those smells be universal or specific to a culture?

For now, I can only speak for myself. A house only feels like a home once the kitchen has been broken in.

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