Hi Everyone, Across the region home cooking is under threat. The usual suspects take the blame – busy lives and packed schedules. Apart from missing out on the many, obvious benefits to be derived from cooking, and sitting down to a home cooked meal, a particular type of experience and memory can be lost forever. Call it kitchen aromatherapy or aromatherapy in the kitchen.

One of the ways in which we communicate about food is through stories and memories. It is how we make connections and stay connected. It is how we reconnect, with people, place and time. A whiff is all we need to whet our appetites and transport us. Kitchen aromatherapy refers to the enticing, tummy-rumbling smells that emanate from the kitchen when cooking and baking. It’s the scent that calls us home, makes us happy to be alive, appreciative, and feel loved all at the same time.

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 Steamed Conkies (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Steamed Conkies (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Imagine then, how wanting one’s life would be to miss out on a pleasure that can only be experienced through our sense of smell. Sure we can eat the food, whatever it is, but experiencing it as an aroma while cooking or baking, adds value and context in a way that eating alone cannot accomplish. Besides, one of the exciting things about living in the Caribbean, is cooking, with our windows (and sometimes doors) flung open as the ‘scent of our pot’ travels through the air enticing neighbours and passersby.

Easter is next weekend. Cross Buns, ham, roasts and pies will be the order of the day. Just like Christmas, Diwali or Eid, it is why we want to be home. Not only do we want to enjoy our family and friends, but we also want a taste of home in which we can engage all of our senses.

Growing up, the smell of bread in the oven and coconut buns baking was always associated with Saturday afternoons. Savoury meats in the oven meant that it was Sunday or some holiday or special occasion. And then of course there are aromas exclusively dedicated to certain holidays and festivals. Cinnamon and cloves would warm the house as sorrel bubbled away. You could picture the ham glazing itself as it cooked. All your neighbours knew when you cooked your Garlic Pork.

Cardamom Bread (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Cardamom Bread (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Baked Ham (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Baked Ham (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

The sizzle of curry paste as it hits hot oil tickles your noise and may even cause you to sneeze. The aroma filling the air and wafting through the open window is bound to let everyone know what you’re cooking.

The heady smell of spices as they toast is one of the main ways to determine when they are done. Conkies is another food that tells you when it is done cooking because you will smell the spices.

Morning or afternoon, baigan (eggplant) roasting is one of the most inviting scents for me. Hot sada roti and a large mug of black tea is all I want.

Even at the start of cooking, aromatherapy begins with onions being cooked gently until soft and sweet, or ginger, garlic and hot peppers setting off their spicy union at the start of an Asian-inspired dish.

As busy as our lives and schedules are, let’s make the time to slow down at least one day a week to get in some much needed therapy.

 

Happy Easter everybody!

 

Cynthia

Cynthia@tasteslikehome.org

www.tasteslikehome.org

 

 

 

 

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