So another thing we discussed in connection with Proust, in the attempt to bring him closer to the students, is the way scents as well as tastes could carry so much.

They played with lavender, oregano, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.� The oregano was fresh and no one recognized it!� They just knew they had smelled it somewhere and could bring up memories of their mothers’ cooking.

In conjunction, two days later they studied Bové and the whole idea that people are too distant from their food and are losing something thereby.� I would preferred to have skipped my whole closeness to snails, but in general…he’s got a point.

When no one in a class can recognize oregano and most have to ask to make sure vanilla beans are vanilla, then he’s definitely got a point.

Here’s to more scents and more food!


If only you could smell the jasmine in this narrow stone street in Mougins, I think the scent could, for just a while, make every other problem in the world go away.

I wish I could bottle it for you!

No.� The bottle defeats the whole thing.� I wish I could snap my fingers and let you walk for an hour or so in these streets and be home in time to hug your kids.

Maybe that’s why I write, both the books and the blog.� It’s a lot harder than snapping my fingers, as all you writers know, but maybe it brings you a little of the jasmine and the stone and the little bicycle parked against the wall for transport through a town no car can fit in.


  • Sarah

    Oh man, I wish I was in France smelling jasmine. That would be lovely. And perhaps not too terribly far off! I am very seriously considering applying for the French Assistantship Program for next year. Have you heard of that? You know, the one that lets Americans with majors/minors in French (I have a minor) go teach English in French schools for a school year? If you have, and if you have a minute, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. It’s terrifying, because even though I took 7 years of French, I have almost no experience with speaking to native speakers. And what little experience I do have was difficult – they’d talk to me, and then it would be my turn to respond, only my tongue wouldn’t work. After 7 years! Shameful. Anyway, scary as it would be, I’m thinking that 80 year old Sarah in the nursing home might regret not going and having those stories to tell. And I wouldn’t mind following in your footsteps – girl from Georgia goes to France and ta-da! sexy French husband. 😀

    September 27, 2007 at 7:07 pm
  • I would have recognized the oregano. And the basil. I have cinnamon basil this year. And thyme. I’ve got some lemon thyme, hope it winters over. I wish you could walk through my garden. It totally astounds me that my husband still can’t recognize a tomato plant from a carrot. At least he’s good at watering things. And then there’s his cooking skills. Let’s not go there. I don’t get the time to cook as much as I like these days, but there’s nothing as calming and grounding as working with fresh, whole ingredients in the kitchen.
    I walk through gardens and woods crushing or brushing leaves. People either look at me puzzled, or smile in understanding. Your post reminds me of the scene in French Kiss where she smells the little bottles he made as a class assignment as a child. Don’t they say that scent triggers memory more than any of the other senses? Sounds like you have some wonderful ideas as a teacher.

    September 28, 2007 at 2:05 am
  • What a lovely post…and I adore that first photo, it’s so romantic and makes me want to be there smelling the jasmine! You are right, when I describe my food I try to capture the smells too, not just the sights. Wonderful exercise!

    September 28, 2007 at 10:34 am
  • Ooooooooooo JASMIN! YUMMY!
    Should I go to GRASSE?
    Is the perfume musee nice to visit?

    September 29, 2007 at 11:14 am
  • Sarah, you should definitely go for it! I know several people who have done this program and they have loved it.

    Laume, I can’t take credit for the original idea. A wonderful colleague of mine mentioned it, and I just ran away with it. I used to grow a big herb garden and at our house now have only put in a few plants–maybe this spring is the time to go back to that. My daughter might be old enough to “help” a little by then rather than run off into trouble every second.

    Thanks for stopping by, Anita. Everyone, if you like temptation, pop over to Anita’s blog to check out her grapefruit zest flavored chocolate tarte. It’s next on my to-make list!

    I hope you’re well arrived in Paris and already having a wonderful time, ParisBreakfasts! I know you’ve probably hit the ground running as always.

    October 2, 2007 at 5:14 am
  • Anne-Gaëlle

    Nice pictures Laura!!Almost there, thx!

    October 3, 2007 at 5:29 am

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