Today, I put a sprinkle of nutmeg in my afternoon coffee and, in a split second, it was Christmas.
Gingerbread men lined up like toy soldiers on a nearby cooling rack. Lights twinkled on a pine in the periphery. I was in Nashville with my parents. And Frank Sinatra’s “The Christmas Waltz” massaged my eardrums.
Frosted window panes/Candles gleaming inside/Painted candy canes on the tree.
It can be 80 degrees outside, yet because of 1/16th of a teaspoon of nutmeg, my mind tells me it’s snowing outside and Santa Claus is a chimney away.
Isn’t it incredible how tastes and smells can transport us to another place, another season, another time? This concept never ceases to amaze me.
There’s a long list of foods and smells that take me away.
For example, the Tazo Refresh mint tea at Starbucks sends me straight back to autumn. A few falls ago, Refresh became an after-lunch tradition.
If I eat an everything bagel, it’s November 2009, and I’m on Manhattan’s east side, getting ready for a day of strolling through art museums and browsing along Fifth Avenue.
I’ve got spaghetti in front of me and suddenly it’s 1987, and I’ve just arrived in Virginia Beach, Va. It was the first dinner my mom made after we moved there.
Strawberries. They made me think of Sunday brunch with my grandpa in the spring during the mid-1990s. He used to pile his waffles high with strawberry sauce and whipped cream, or what he referred to as "putrification."
Minestrone soup makes me think of that same grandpa and our seven-course holiday meals.
Fried chicken? That reminds me of Halloween in the late 1990s. My friend and I made it our personal mission to scare the side of mashed potatoes and cole slaw right out of the KFC delivery lady’s hands. We succeeded.
Tonight we’re making avocado tacos, which brings to mind my mom eating quesadillas and guacamole at midnight – any day of the year. If her house was on fire, I’m pretty sure she’d leave the family photo albums and take all the avocados.
What foods take you to another time or place?