The Gleeful Gourmand: The Smell of Fall is...Onions?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Smell of Fall is...Onions?

Well, not just onions, but more specifically, onions sautéing in melted, bubbling butter. I know that sounds strange, but as fall officially winds down here in Virginia (it went down to 19 degrees last night!), it got me thinking about my favorite smells of the fall season: that peculiar delicious smokiness, apples, and of course onions in butter.

Let me explain. When I was a kid, we were sent outside to play most of the time, unless it was raining or bitterly cold. We were very fortunate to have a great yard with lots of room to play and explore, and also other kids in the neighborhood willing to play as well. One of my strongest memories associated with smell is coming home just before dinnertime in the fall after an afternoon of play, and coming up to our backdoor. Without the door being opened I could smell my mother’s cooking – the heavenly aroma of onions sweating it out in a pool of butter. Maybe she was making her own spaghetti sauce, or Johnny Marzetti, one of my favorite dishes. My stomach would tighten in hunger, and the anticipation of a great dinner would build.

So when I think of fall and its smells, I think of onions in butter. Besides the ocean, and maybe a freshly baked apple pie, it is one of my favorite smells. When I sauté onions in butter, I frequently stick my nose down close to the pan and simply inhale. It smells like home, and warmth, and childhood.

What about you? Do you have any favorite cooking smells, or smells that take you back to your childhood kitchen? Leave them in the comments!


Kirsten Oliphant said...

I am a smelly person (in all senses of the word) and smells really take me back! I don't think I have particular childhood memories or anything really deep or good-food, but I will say that there are two fast food places that universally smell THE SAME: Burger King and Subway. And I love the smell of both!

I feel like I just took this post down a few notches. Doh! You have low-rent friends. :)

Videopub said...

As much as I love the taste of sauteed onions, I just couldn't take the smell as a kid. It would all get into my eyes and sting and make my eyes water...I used to think I was allergic (...ah, the hypochondria started young...).

They certainly tasted good, though.

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