The smell is one of the most important senses we have. It's crucial to taste. That's why one can say that a goat cheese in Provins, France tastes like socks. It tastes like it smells. The Farmhouse Saison from Mikkeler that I'm fond of right now smells like a zoo, but tastes much better, much much better.
Often smells are intertwined with our past, our memories. So often we remember by smell and memories are brought back by smells.
I'm not one for nostalgia, so in considering a short list of the best smell, I tried to avoid memories and nostalgic emotions that these smells could have evoked. I want to select a smell that is the best or near it not because it reminds me of the past, be it a happy memory of the my grandparents farm; the many smells that can conjure up so much happiness I had there, or a girlfriend that I remember when I smell fresh bread.
However bread is amongst the candidates near the top, that is the smell of bread being baked, this hearty thick skinned sour dough bread baked on the corner of a street named Sunny. This smell from a rather ugly block building filled the streets of the surrounding neighborhood like a fog in a sea side village. It was part of it, an integral part of the neighborhood experience.
I live very far away from this place, but the smell of a similarly fresh baked bread a local restaurant sells, wrapped in paper and tied of with some twine smells equally devine. It's not tied to any memory, it's just good; it smells good, it tastes good and it makes me feel good to smell it and taste it, to bit into the crunch of the skin to feel the cool slab of butter and hopefully a mild cheese.
Another smell not tied to nostalgia is very much related to the post about the best month which is very much related to smell, and that is the smell of oncoming cool weather. This is a smell I long for each year after the long hot, very hot summers in Phoenix. The arrival of the cooler temperatures starts off as a subtle smell which tells me the good times are near.
So many of the smells are tiled to a place. My top ones would probably change a bit were I in a different location. The onset of the cold is equally appealing to me in Arizona as it is in Europe, but the distinct fragrance of a local bush is so unique and tied to its places that it almost defines it.
The Creosote Bush
The smell of the Creosote bush when it rains or drizzles in the deserts of Phoenix is to some disgusting and to others soothing, alluring and intoxicating. If you missed the rain, but you get a whiff of this aroma you know there was at least a little bit of water that met with dust and the waxy dense little leaves of this bush.
There are other smells that are on my short list. It's not easy to push one to the top. At this point of writing I still don't know which one is there.
The top is crowded with the smell of my dogs, but no their breath, the air that rolls down the hills in the afternoon near my grandmas house in Chotum, Poland, or the smell of warm summer air that rises from a flower covered meadow; the smell of farm animals, horse dung on asphalt, a busy city centre; shea butter soap in a big thick brick, fresh pressed virgin unfiltered olive oil; the fresh salty air of the Pacific Ocean; all these are wonderful smells and none so because of memories. I'm at a loss to pick one. I don't have to pick one. There is no best; there is just a short list crowded with the most fond smells.