Posted tagged ‘turkey in the oven’

“Each day has a color, a smell.”

October 5, 2010

It is a put a mirror under her nose to make sure she’s breathing sort of morning. I went to bed really late, or early if you’re a stickler for exactitude, as I just wasn’t tired. I watched bad movies, read a bit and shopped through some catalogs. It was nearly ten when I woke up. Even the animals slept in with me. The day is rainy and chilly. I think I chose a good morning to stay in bed. I hate wasting sun.

Smells are amazing. They let us travel through time and space. One of my favorites is the aroma of freshly baked bread. When I was a kid, two bakeries in the square made their own bread, and I’d sometimes buy a roll still hot from the oven. It didn’t need butter. It was sweet enough on its own.

Fall is still the smell of burning leaves for me. I always thought of smoke signals when I saw piles of burning leaves with their gray smoke snaking into the air. In my memory, the day was always chilly and standing near the fire was warming. My clothes smelled like the burning leaves, and I hated to put them in the wash. Christmas smells like a fir tree. I remember walking downstairs every morning and smelling the tree in the living room. Christmas couldn’t come soon enough. On Thanksgiving, the house was filled with the smell of the turkey roasting in the oven. The kitchen windows were covered in steam, and I couldn’t see outside. I’d watch my mother baste the turkey, and we’d share a small piece of the crusted stuffing she’d pull off the end.

The smell of charcoal lighter fluid brings back my father. He was a firm believer in soaking the briquettes, and as soon as a match hit them, the flame would rise high into the sky. The whoosh of the fire always sent him reeling backwards. He set his pant legs on fire many times.

Burning wood is Ghana. Everyone used wood charcoal. Some villages were charcoal villages, and long logs were kept smoldering to make the charcoal. Every morning I smelled sweet burning wood as my breakfast was cooked on a small round charcoal burner. First it was the water for coffee, then the eggs while the toast leaned on the burner and was turned so both sides would brown. My dinner was cooked the same way.

At night, the sides of the street were filled with women selling food. They fried plantains in white enamel pots over wood fires or roasted skewers of Guinea fowl and chicken on screens over the fires. The town was mostly dark so the small fires looked like bright, low flickering street lights. The whole town smelled like wood burning, like a cozy fire in winter.


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