Tastes and Smells Now and Then (PART 1)

Funny, I don’t remember what I had for lunch, but I will never forget the establishment and the beautiful sandwich choices: Carnation, Lily, Pansy, to name a few. In season, I came to expect a flower garnish on the presentation plate–something fresh, edible, and fragrant from the herb and flower gardens cultivated on both sides of the walkway from alley to back entrance of Flowers-in-the- Kitchen. And who took the orders and served with a smile? None other than the affable owner, Jim Flowers.

This summer 2012 seemed a perfect balance of sunshine, heat, and rain so I was inspired to cultivate on a small scale myself. Having caused the demise of a series of potted and pampered hibiscus, my huge ceramic planter held nothing but soil late spring. And on impulse, I grabbed the tallest tomato vine in sight as I entered the grocery. My pick was already loaded with small green tomatoes and dozens of healthy yellow blossoms. It definitely had promise. Hm-m-m-m, the smell, alone, took me back to my youthful, reluctant gardening days. I’m thinking that plant (entwined with a gangly, climbing and clingy white petunia surprise) produced 4-5 dozen tomatoes. From a newspaper article, I learned early on that picking the fruit when pink was best and sure enough the bright red of ripeness appeared right on the kitchen counter. In my childhood, to pick a ripe tomato still warm from the sun, cut out the core, pour in a spoonful of sugar–now that was some treat.

One of my mother’s annual delights was having a constant supply of fresh bouquets inside and I loved to breathe in the sweet pea perfume. Nasturtiums, all shades of yellow, gold, and orange had a strong distinctive fragrance. I was inspired to poke the wrinked seeds in a ring around a pot centered atop a pedestal from a flower gift a couple of years back. Just the ticket for the vine that cascaded to the patio floor. When I brought in  a handful for a little vase on the kitchen table, I remembered how Mom alternately displayed either the pastel-shaded sweet pea or boldly bright nasturtiums.  She filled a glass bowl with water,  set her pride-and-joy floral “frog” in it and filled each hole with a stem. This special “frog” was  Aurene ware–the gold version. Can’t forget to mention I remembered that nasturtiums are edible. So, yes, one summer day I took a chance on renewing my education. I wish I had remembered to have a BIG glass of cold water to offset the peppery effect on my tongue!

I wish I knew precisely  the name of pale yellow roses growing unattended year after year at the corner of my paternal Grandma’s property where it met ours. If I live to be 100, I’ll know the smell. I sniffed that bush in bloom till the bees forced me away. It smelled like my mother’s Pond’s cleansing cream. I surreptitiously unscrewed the jar’s top to inhale the fragrance.

Tastes and smells tie then to now.


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