Southern Smells of Spring

June 22nd, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

“You will notice an odd odor. If it doesn’t have the foam and the odor, do not use.”

My favorite recipe from my maternal grandmother, Mable, is very sensual and suitably vague. That salt-rising bread recipe starts with “At noon, slice 2 potatoes into a qt. jar,” goes through creating a frothy leavening not by salt but with potato starch, corn meal and baking soda, and leads to adding “fat the size of an egg” before kneading.

The peculiar smell is definitely part of the bread, both in preparation and eating. Reading the recipe puts me back in that West Virginia kitchen. Slicing the dense bread thinly and coating its toast in a wee layer of butter puts me at the table in the next room.

Walking down Brush Hill Road today on the border of Boston’s Hyde Park and Milton, I stumbled by and breathed in more honeysuckle. I don’t see much of that up here in Yankee land and when I do, I see one vine, not 50 or or 100 yards of it. Yet, that cloying smell evokes childhood. Perhaps that’s one of my Madelaine triggers.That single full honeysuckle today sent me back to age 13.

This works even for we feeble men. Scent is supposedly the woman’s advantage among senses. Word is that a typical woman can detect the faintest whiff of another woman on a man, while he is oblivious. Perhaps, but flowers and foods transport me.

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3 Responses

  1. lynda says:

    Another thing that we have in common. I went to first grade in Knoxville, TN. Honeysuckle always takes me back to that time and place. New Englanders don’t know how to sip the nectar!

  2. Susan Brown says:

    Hi. Your interest and memories of Salt Rising Bread interest and please me. I have a web site devoted to Salt Rising Bread, if you’d like to visit it ( ). I also work at a bakery where we make the old fashioned, authentic SRB. We ship it anywhere in the US, just for your information, though perhaps you are able to get it somewhere else or make it yourself. Susan

  3. Harrumpher says:

    The salt-rising bread site is pretty nice. I certainly don’t mind letting her promote it. It has recipes and vendors. It does take a couple of days to make a batch. I consider it worth the trouble…and the magic.

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