Earlier today I was passing by a pastry shop when I felt that smell. That particular smell. The smell of my grandmother’s home-made donuts. I stopped for a minute and bought one. I didn’t eat it right away. I sat down on a bench instead and I let its smell take me back in time, to those certain special winter days when my grandmother would let me know since early in the morning that she will make donuts.
I was happy at first, but then I would get more and more anxious as time was passing by, because it was always taking too long till the donuts were ready to be served.
She would first heat up the stove until the heat would turn the kitchen into a sauna, then she would let the dough raise under a lot of towels, near the red hot stove. I remember that we were not allowed to open any door or window until the dough was done raising and I never ceased to be amazed by that mysterious connection between heat and raising dough and good donuts. For a long time, I thought a kind of magic was involved in that process.
To kill time and make the waiting more exciting, I would sneak near the stove, steal some dough and eat it quickly, before my grandmother would catch me red handed.
Eventually, after endless hours of waiting and after too much raw dough eaten by yours truly, my grandmother would finally start cutting the dough in round shapes and then fry them. Right during the first batch, the smell would start crawl in absolute silence, like an invisible giant snake, all over the house and then down the street, attracting all the neighbors to that hot kitchen. They were coming in under silly pretexts but I knew they were all there for the donuts and I was always terrified there might not be enough for everybody…and the kitchen was already full and the donuts were not even ready… it was taking so damn long…
It is incredible how my brain kept intact all those sensations, all the tension of that waiting game, in such a flawless memory. Smells can bring back memories I am not even aware I still have. One certain smell and recollections that seemed completely lost are back in a matter of seconds. And not only they are back, but they bring with them an entire bouquet of vivid sensations. Smells are special to me. Smells are and always be my invisible, precious treasure.