The Memory of Scent

Hello Friends and Campers! Denise here from the Loire Valley, France.

The air here this first of May is sweet with the smell of lilacs and honeysuckle, and the roses and iris are about to burst into bloom. Here at Le Petit Saint Barnabé in Mouliherne, France I inherited several lilac shrubs; one white flowering and the others various shades from light lavender to dark purple.

When I was a child my family lived in Wyoming, and the winters were long and hard. When spring finally came in late May our white lilac would bloom and I would run outside, ecstatic that it was a warm and sunny day, and bury my face in the center of the beautiful flowers to inhale the fragrance. I did the same here today and was transported back to that childhood experience in brilliant technicolor. I trans-located if you will, into the past, triggered by a scent.


I have had many such encounters throughout my life, where a scent sparked a memory from the past. One day I was out for a walk and the scent of cypress trees hit me. This brought me back to a time in Provence when I was seven years old, on a hunt for escargots with my Grandmother in the cypress forest close to her farmhouse. I relived walking hand in hand with my Grandmother, the sound of leaves crunching under-foot, the beams of sunlight breaking through the trees, and later that night, the smell and taste of the garlic/parsley butter sizzling in the shells.

I have heard it said that smell is the most potent of our senses and that it can, for better or worse, set our emotions reeling and affect our well being. Just think of the smell of bread baking. Now, who doesn’t feel good when they smell that? And smell affects our taste buds too. Without a sense of smell, we wouldn’t taste our food in the same way or at all. Scent can set off a drool response or a gag response, depending on which scent one encounters. So it is indeed potent.

Once when we Gourmet Girls were cooking dinner over our campfire in Big Sur neighboring campers come to our campsite to borrow a can opener. They asked us what we were cooking, and stood gaping at our bubbling Dutch oven meal. They couldn’t believe that it smelled so good. If we had made enough to share, we would have invited them to eat with us, but alas that night we didn’t. So the poor, dejected souls sullenly wandered back to their campsite and opened up their can of beans and weenies for dinner. Well, I guess if you’re hungry enough even the smell of a can of beans and weenies can make a person drool.

We do hope our recipes in The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook are sparking your sense of taste and memory, memories of times spent around a campfire with your families and friends. Cook up some of our recipes over a smoky fire and don’t forget to throw on a bit extra for the neighbors!

What is your favorite scent? Let us know here.


Denise, Gail, and Lindsey


2 Comment

  1. HYACINTH – ROSE Wonderful blog Denise!

    1. Thanks Kristena !

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.