I know that aromatherapy is a real thing, but what about just smell therapy?
Not in the sense of, go light an $18 Yankee Candle Co. cylinder of wax in “Moroccan Sand” and let tranquility over come you, but more like, what does the smell of leather bring to memory? How does that semi-conscious association make you feel? Knowing which odors make you cringe or cry or feel safe is probably more telling than we think.
I’ve sat in on enough Psych 101 to know about the olfactory system and the hippocampus and all that neuro jazz. But what sticks with me more was a conversation in high school photography class, when I listened intently as an older and automatically wiser senior lectured me on how the scent of your first ever significant other is one that stays with you forever.
“Wow” and “why don’t I have a significant other yet??” were all I could dwell on.
Needless to say, that scent eventually became Axe, and I’d bet into triple digit figures that this is a shared memory for 75% of women between the ages of 16-25. But other smells probably bring up more meaningful responses.
The same perfume I’ve been wearing for at least 7 years (*shivers*) doesn’t make me think of Estée Lauder ads or the infinite cosmetic bags I’ve collected from “free with your $50 purchase” specials. It makes me laugh as I recall spending at least an hour in Boscov’s beauty department with my dad, who insisted that at the age of 17? 18?, it was time to establish my personal fragrance.
The smell of rotisserie chickens triggers a sense of dread. It sends me back to summer afternoons spent manning the prepared salad counter at a small grocery store, where I had to package up the oily birds in between trips to the walk-in freezer (where I’d dive head first into a trash can full of coleslaw for counter refills).
The smell of sugar burning in the oven? Instantly instills world peace. No after-hours work email, lack of a new episode of The Mindy Project or unfulfilling salad dinner can undo the tranquility of something bronzing at 350° in the oven.
This self awareness helps me combat what would probably be a severe case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. If I have to bear 11º weather just to get to the grocery store, I can at least optimistically buy and bake some fruit to make up for it.
The Smell of Serenity Fruit Pie
Makes 1 pie; adapted from Queen Martha Stewart
Crumb topping (you may not need all that this yields, I certainly didn’t)
3/4 c flour
6 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
A shake of cinnamon
3/4 stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
For the pie
1 crust (store-bought babe)
5 c of fruit – I used 1 carton of strawberries, 1 small carton of blackberries and around 1.5 chopped/peeled apples
3/4 – 1 c granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp flour
A pinch of salt
1 healthy shot of bourbon (embrace it)
A baby kangaroo could make this crumb topping, people. Mix the flour, brown and granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. With a pair of soft, clean hands, work in the cut-up butter pieces until everything is clumpy in an ugly yet, “I’d still eat this plain” kind of way. Keep this refrigerated until later.
Preheat your oven to 400º F (this is step one toward comforting smells.)
For the pie, roll out your store purchased (or homemade for the gods and goddesses among us) pie crust into a standard pie tin and pinch/braid the crust around to your liking. In a large bowl. combine your fruit, granulates guar, lemon juice, salt and flour. You don’t to pulverize the fruit (especially if you’re using berries), so just gently fold everything together.
Pour the fruit mixture evenly into the pie crust. IT’S BOURBON TIME. Drizzle a shot glass full over the fruit. There’s no logic to this. It just works.
Retrieve the crumb topping and sprinkle generously over the entire pie. Like I said, I didn’t end up using the entire bowlful so use your perfect personal judgement.
Place the pie on a baking sheet (to catch bubbling-over fruit juice) in the lower third of your oven and reduce the heat to 350º. Bake until bubbling and brown, around an hour and a half. Check the pie at the 1 hour mark, it may not need much more than that.
Let cool for at least a couple hours. Serve solo, a la mode or with more bourbon.