THE SMELL TEST
Both Delicious and Disgusting!
The smell of brownies baking in the oven. Is there anything better? When you smell the warm chocolate, you know it’s time to take the brownies out of the oven. This works for chocolate chip cookies too. No timer needed . . . that delicious aroma comes wafting out of the kitchen, and the cookies are perfectly baked. The anticipation of the taste of warm gooey chocolate means several cookies are eaten right off the cookie sheet. In my house, only half the cookies ever make it to the cooling rack and into the cookie jar.
The smell of cookies or brownies baking in the oven can have a strong effect on people. Realtors know this. Any realtors worth their salt will advise the home seller to bake cookies on the day of their open house. When prospective buyers enter the house, they immediately have feelings of comfort and joy.
My Grandma Jenkins knew this too. She always had a jar full of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies waiting for us when we came to visit. Grandma’s cookies were the real deal. Only real butter and Nestlé Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels. Those cookies were the reward for surviving the four-hour drive in the family station wagon. Perhaps the memories of Grandma’s cookies are the reason we all love the smells of cookies and brownies today.
Smell memory. It’s a real thing. There are some smells that instantly take you back in time. How about the boys in high school who all wore Brut 66? Ah, the cologne of manly men of the 1980s. That slightly musky smell clogged the hallways of my high school. At that same time, all the girls were wearing Love’s Baby Soft. I don’t know why we did this. It really did smell like a baby. In fact, I still remember the day a boy sitting in front of me in class turned around and asked me if I had a baby sister or brother.
“No, why?” I asked.
He replied, “Because you smell like a baby diaper.”
Definitely NOT what I was going for. Needless to say, I trashed my bottle of Love’s Baby Soft as soon as I got home that day.
Then there are the gross smells. Why is it when milk is going bad, we can’t help but smell it and ask anyone in the house to smell it too? We need that second opinion to confirm what we already know. It’s time to toss the milk! And then there’s the shoe smell. No, I’m not talking about generally bad smelling shoes, I’m talking about when my husband comes in from mowing the grass and shoves his shoe in my face and asks, “Does this smell like dog poop?” Gross, Really Gross.
My husband has his own tradition of the smell test. Laundry. Years ago, I banned him from doing my laundry after he washed my dry cleaning in the washing machine! In retrospect, I think he did it on purpose so he could get out of doing the laundry. But I needed his help and was willing to give him another chance . . . with some more training. We started together by sorting the laundry into piles. As we stood around the hamper, pulling out clothes and dropping them into neat piles, I noticed several of his clothes were draped over a chair, and others were hung on the bookcase by the belt loops.
Before, when I would do the laundry, those items would go straight into the sorted piles. I had assumed it was just where the clothes landed when he changed at the end of the day. I thought he was just being lazy about getting them into the hamper.
However, a funny thing happened that day as we stood side-by-side and sorted the laundry. I noticed he was smelling each piece before dropping it into the sorting pile, and placing some pieces back on the chair or on the bookcase. He must have sensed that I was gaping with incomprehension.
“I’m saving time and effort,” he explained, “Why wash it if it can be worn one more time?”
I learned something that day . . . his system of laundry sorting was the smell test.