What happened to food aromas? 8


I was standing in front of the bakery in Roche Brothers downtown.  The pistachio donut looked really tempting.  What the heck, I thought, it’s the holidays, and I’ll indulge.  I grabbed a piece of waxed paper and reach for one when I realized that it was cold and that it had no smell.  The temptation to indulge was instantly thwarted.

I pulled my hand out and relaxed my pinched  fingers from the waxed paper.  I sniffed the air.   How odd, I thought, I’m at a bakery counter but there are no aromas.  In fact, there were no food smells at all – not from the prepared food counter or from the cooked foods bar.8416219b9b5780104fd912508c4f9a01

I mention Roche Brothers, but the same is true of other supermarkets.  Food looks good but there are no accompanying aromas unless you’re at a sub shop where pizza is being baked  or something is being fried.

Recently, I’ve eaten out more than usual because I’ve had very long days that have me leaving house and out all day to a succession of meetings, interviews, and events all over town. I find myself, going for quick bites and often feeling dissatisfied because there’s no aroma.I realize that I mostly smell food when I’ve cooked it.  I long for the smell of food.

This being Christmas time, I found myself feeling more nostalgic than usual. (I miss my family this Christmas.)  A memory came back of the scented air that surrounded the bakeries and bakery outlets we frequented when I grew up. My mouth began salivating as I remembered the hot yeast rolls my Mom baked for many Sunday and holiday dinners.  What I would give to taste those rolls again! Mom’s lost her recipe.   None of the bakeries I’ve visited locally had hot rolls.  (Please share if you know places that sell them.)Thanksgiving baking IMG_20151125_203001132

Commercial places must now have superior ventilation systems that eliminate the aromas of what’s being prepared and, for me, something is lacking as a result.

When I cook and bake, the aromas of the foods linger in the air.  There’s something too antiseptic, sterile, about many of the foods sold by food purveyors.  It’s actually reduced the amount of pastry that I eat – a good thing I guess – because it’s easy to avoid something that is cold and, other than visual appeal, doesn’t make my mouth water.

I wish there were full-service bakeries in Roxbury and Dorchester and downtown Boston – places I frequent more than JP or Somerville which have an abundance of such bakeries I beleive Do the bakeries in those places still have aromas?  What’s the time of day to catch items coming freshly from the oven?

Recently, I had an olfactory orgasm, after putting lemon glaze on a lemon pound cake I made for the Friends of the Dudley Library scholarship bake sale.  There’s absolute nothing like the aroma of goods fresh from the oven, made with wholesome ingredients.  I had to lock down that cake to keep my husband from sampling it.

Sigh.  I did break out my apron and bake another lemon cake for a friend’s birthday and an apple pie for my husband. (I tend not to bake too much at home because I will keep returning to sweets until their gone).  Still, I am craving some freshly baked yeast rolls.   I guess I’ll have to try to make some soon.  Please share your recipes.  Thank you in advance.

(2nd photo of sour cream poundcake and pumpkin pie, made by author, and apple pie, made by Leanne, my future daughter-in-law, for Thanksgiving 2014.)


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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8 thoughts on “What happened to food aromas?

  • LANA JACKSON

    I agree…there’s no aroma because the production (baking) is happening somewhere else–far, far, away. Food is sold like toys and technology…made in China, packaged and sold in communities where people are happy to have access. Maybe it’s time to question the food served in the community. Maybe it’s time to have a Wegman’s in Roxbury and Mattapan.

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      Thanks for taking time to comment and for agreeing with my sentiments. I met a woman recently who works for Tropical Foods in the Bakery department. She made a delicious bread pudding with a sauce that she baked at the home we were at. I’ll have to go through Tropical to see if they bake on site. I know Haley House does but not bread.

  • Elizabeth

    Like you the aromas of food cause my senses to go into overdrive. I recently baked batches of oatmeal, chocolate chip and sugar cookies and the aromas caused everyone in the house to ask what’s baking. I had planned to give away many but time got away from me and many ended up in my mouth. I agree, most places have lost the aromas and it can cause one to question what is in that item if you can even identify the item by smell.