A few days ago on a beautiful spring day we strolled through an Italian food market,
which was adjoined to a fine restaurant. The aisles of
the market’s shelves were filled with baskets of overflowing fruits, vegetables,
fine olive oils, sea salts and balsamic vinegars. My nostrils tickled with the
smell of fine food from the restaurant. It brought me back to my apprenticeship
days many years ago in Europe in fine restaurants. Every morning when I entered those kitchens a
particular food scent became apparent and it stuck in my memory to this day.
Every once in a while those memories awaken and I associate the aromas with fine cuisine.
Walking through that food market and passing by that restaurant catapulted me right back to the days when I was handling the finest food products available.
Can a scent be an appetizer?
In that restaurant the smell of tangy, fragrant, simmered tomatoes
and fresh basil with an undertone of pepper flakes was in the air, maybe from a
plate of saucy house-made pasta or a hearth-oven pizza. The savory perfume of antipasto plates of prosciutto,
salami and fine cheeses were magnificent. Visually, the waft in the air was
confirmed because I watched people sitting in that restaurant munching on rich-seeming
risotto with plump olives and shaven Parmesan, intricate salads of tiny spring
beets layered with paper-thin slices of prosciutto. Another plate that stuck
out visually was a pink-yellow rainbow radish layered with hearts of artichoke and
crowned with peppery speck.
All these impressions of the food made us hungry and finally we stopped at one of those restaurant’s pretty marble high tables for a quick bite. It was snacking in the Italian fashion – simply standing up, noncommittal and effortless. Within minutes of ordering we were surrounded by freshly made mozzarella, crunchy tricolori salad and chewy white Italian bread. The rosi salumis were cut translucently thin and reeked of forbidden salty-smoky decadence. The flavor sensation was bedazzling and the delicacies seemed to melt in your mouth. It was refreshing to look at the outside of our wine glasses where condensation formed tiny water pearls. When I stuck my nose into the glass I happily noticed the bouquet of the pale-yellow wine - green apples, pleasant bright grassiness. All that was confirmed on my palate a moment later. Once again it became apparent to me that the smell of food plays an important part in enjoying what we eat and can act as an appetizer.