Friday, January 04, 2008

olfactory override

Olive oil from Spain, it said on the tin can.

As I drizzled it sparingly onto the metal baking sheet, its thin green stream lolling luxuriously from the spout, the scent of olives came up to me. It brought with it hills and castles, burnt umber paths of farrowed dirt, splayed wooden rakes and carts of sheared branches, and sea-green clouds of foliage hovering over their biblical and twisted stocks: rows and rows of them, winding from the crest of the sky to the sunken valley floor, wreathing huts and sheds and stuccoed houses with Moorish hordes cloaked in dusty gray-green.

A road trip from the mountains of Toledo to the southern-most tip of Spain will run you about six hours. During those hours, if daylight is on your side, you will behold not much else besides olive groves. Groves, a few sleepy villages, and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Make that trip in March or April, and you will observe the farmers pruning their orchards. Damp, smudgy fires dot the rows where heaps of olive branches smolder, releasing their acrid perfume into the air. There is no escaping the smell, even if you roll up your windows and bury your nose in travel guides. If one were to prepare to sautee an onion but left the room to answer the phone and got caught up in conversation and came back ten minutes later to a smoking pan of olive oil, one would know the smell I remember all along the road to Southern Spain.

My favorite family is well acquainted with my gastronomical cravings. (Namely: gourmet cheese, fresh herbs, fresh berries, real cream, vine-ripened tomatoes, anything from a real bakery, olives, and a few dozen other things that will make your mouth water.) Wasn't it thoughtful of them to gift me with some imported EVOO so I could bake them good things to eat? The mental trip to Southern Spain was merely a bonus for a person like me who possesses a vivid memory, imagination, and keen sense of smell.


Anonymous Alleluiabelle said...

I just love reading your postings. They are full of richness in meaning and in pros. The way you described everything in this posting, well...I felt as though I was there experiencing it all. You helped me to escape to a far off place this evening and that's a treat for me since I've never experienced opportunities to travel to such far away places. My mouth was watering for something good to eat when I snapped back into reality. Thank you for taking me there.

In Him,
Nancy C.

8:00 PM  

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