Aromas

Yesterday we were talking with a friend who has known us for a long time and he commented about waking up to the smell of brewing coffee at our home. We noted that actually we don’t start our day by brewing coffee any more. It was part of our routine for many years. I often put the coffee on as my first act after rising. I grew up in a home where the coffee pot was put on first thing in the morning as well. I like the aroma of brewing coffee and I know how powerful that aroma is at triggering memories.

Our friend drinks a bit of coffee, but he isn’t much of a coffee drinker and they don’t start their days with a pot of coffee in their home. They brew tea.

These days I sometimes have a cup of tea in the morning and sometimes I have a cup of decaf coffee, but I don’t start with the hot beverage. I get up, write my blog, shower and dress and fix my breakfast and then prepare my hot beverage to take with me as I head out the door.

It is a fairly big change from the way things used to be win our home. For many years I would rise, make the coffee and pour my first cup before I had my shower. I would carry a cup of coffee with me from room to room as I prepared for my day. It was a habit and I enjoyed the boost that the caffeine gave me. Even after I stopped drinking caffeinated beverages, I would make coffee first thing in the morning so that it would be ready when my wife got up.

We had talked about my giving up caffeine quite a bit, and we even talked about her cutting back a bit, but we didn’t think that would begin with the first cup of the morning. Then we went on a trip to a place where coffee wasn’t readily available first thing in the morning. By the end of the week, she had decided to continue with the new pattern.

There are other changes that we have made in our lives as the years have passed.

I remember the smell of bacon cooking as I rose from bed as a child. When I went away to college and returned home, I discovered that bacon wasn’t a staple of the morning meal at home any more. Mother would cook eggs and toast most mornings, but they had cut back on their consumption of bacon. These days, when we cook bacon for a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich I enjoy the aroma, but I don’t associate it with breakfast as once was the case.

I wonder what aromas my grandchildren will remember from their childhood. Their father occasionally makes coffee at home and is more likely to do so when he is able to linger over breakfast a bit. Most days, however, he doesn’t have coffee with his breakfast. And they sometimes have bacon, but not every day.

Aromas, especially those associated with food, vary with different cultures. Around the world there are many different menus for the first meal of the day. As we have traveled, we have discovered that not everyone starts their day in the same manner with the same food. In Central America we often found rice served at breakfast, and we expected the same in Japan, but rice wasn’t a part of breakfast in the places we visited during our trip to Japan last summer.

My father was an advocate for a warm breakfast. We wee allowed to eat cold cereal for breakfast on Christmas day and during the summer, but the rest of the year we were expected to eat a hot breakfast. There were often times when hot cereal was the first course, followed by eggs and toast. Sometimes we had pancakes or french toast for breakfast as well. Our mother liked to vary the menus when we were younger. As we grew older, the menu shifted into a more predictable eggs and toast every day.

Eating is a requirement for healthy living and breakfast is an important meal as it sets the tone for the rest of the day. When I skip breakfast I have found that I tend to eat more total calories during the day. I am best able to control my eating when I start with a good breakfast. But my menu has changed over the years. These days I often make a breakfast burrito or wrap. I rarely make toast for myself, though usually offer toast to guests. I don’t think we made breakfast burritos at all when our children were living at home. I like a bit a feta and perhaps some spinach inn my breakfast wrap now. I don’t think we even had feta cheese in our house when our kids were at home. Times change and our tastes change as well.

Long standing friends and our children notice the changes in the menu and in the aromas when they come to visit although I do tend to make coffee whenever we have guests.

I have read that smells and aromas are strong triggers of memory and that smell is an important sense when it comes to triggering memories. Most of the time, however, we don’t think consciously about smells. Once in a while I’ll get a whiff of an aroma that triggers a strong memory. I like shopping in a farm supply store that sells a lot of animal feed. One of my first jobs for pay was sweeping the floor in a feed warehouse. I have pleasant memories of those days. I don’t have any horses to feed and I don’t have any lambs that need milk supplement, but I suspect that the store sells me more tools than another store with a similar inventory simply because I enjoy going to the store that smells like a feed store.

Now I’m wondering which aromas attract people to church. I do make coffee first thing when I arrive at the church on Sunday mornings.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!