It is said that the olfactory sense is man’s strongest sense. When the smell of my favourite childhood dish, potato pancakes, reaches my nose I am immediately transported back to the happy little girl I was when my mother prepared it in our sunny kitchen. When I travel to a foreign country where charcoal is still used I just have to close my eyes to revisit my beloved grandmother’s house. Next to a fragrant jasmine bush pictures from my first visit to the south of France directly emerges in my mind’s eye.
If you cannot stand a person, in German the saying goes that you “can’t smell” him or her – “ich kann ihn oder sie nicht riechen” – and I am sure there are many more sayings in other languages that point to the same fact: our noses lead the way. My nose has led me to live in the mountains, because I love fresh air, the smell of larch trees and alpine clover on the high altitudes and of peppermint and roses in my garden.
I am also very grateful to my nose for giving me so much pleasure at the table: try enjoying a good meal when you’ve got a bad cold. Imagine savouring a good wine, or having a handful of perfectly ripe wild strawberries when your nose is completely clogged.
So sad, so very sad.
Some smells make me sad (vehicle exhaust) or disgusted (pig poop), some make me nostalgic (Eau Sauvage by Dior) or happy (fried aubergines and mimosa flowers, and some calm me down (lavender and summer warm pine trees). What smells affect you, one way or the other?
PS: There is an amazing novel dedicated to the sense of smell, “Perfume” by Patrick Süskind. It’s an amazing, sometimes shocking and surprising story that I recommend
to all avid readers.