An Ode to Nutmeg & Onions

I was reading a food lovers article that said, “Of the five senses, smell is the most “direct”: when we smell the aroma of a delicious dish of pasta served in tomato sauce, the odorous molecules reach the nasal cavity and are captured by the mucous which contain olfactory receptors. These consist of 5 million cells packed with “cilia” which, as soon as they come into contact with the odorous molecules, transmit a message to a specific area of our brain, through the olfactory nerve. This direct contact between nose and brain explains how a simple smell can trigger an emotion.

Goodness is that true. The other night I was doing a little stir therapy and making green bean casserole.  You basically start by cooking onions in butter with salt, pepper and nutmeg. That’s when it hit me, this smells like Italy. Very specifically in fact, a restaurant that I ate in on the Piazza Navona in Rome when I found out that I had gotten a promotion to a job at a brand new company. That smell wafted from the most perfect bowl of fettucine alfredo I ever had in my entire life.

I needed that escape at the moment this week, and I went wading through all my photos from ten years ago when that happened and finally found it. I am so glad I took this picture now. It never really made any of my albums, it’s rather non-descript, but for me, what a strong memory it was to realize – nutmeg belongs in alfredo, and I, especially ten years ago, needed that trip to Italy.

I remember being at a transition point in my life then. Trying to figure out where I wanted to find myself next – and to make sure that I was in the right mind set to achieve that. Now I look back a decade and I would have never imagined that I would be as settled as I am now, everything felt so frayed then, but I am so grateful, especially now as I’m looking 42 years of life in the face, and I am overwhelmed with joy, that despite a pandemic, I am thriving and happier than I ever have been.

Sure, I still have bad days, sure we all need respite from this pandemic already, but where I am now, overall, is more secure and kind than where I have found myself before. I am grateful to nutmeg for reminding me of that.


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