The Smells That Let Me Know I Am Home in Mexico
1. Freshly cooked tortillas
If you smell fresh tortillas you know everything is going to be ok. You could be overloaded with work, feeling tired, or feeling sad, but that smell will always make you happy…that and slicing into an avocado and finding it perfectly ripe! It’s all about life’s simple pleasures.
Ahh the famous Perfume de Gardenia! These flowers smell so enchanting songs have been written about them. The gardenia is like a temptress urging me to buy her from the flower sellers passing by. Enjoy these enticing flowers quickly because their intensity quickly fades and their scent disappears in the wind.
Nothing says I’m home like the smells from my local bakery Panaderia la Vasconia wafting down the street. The sweet, doughy scent of conchas, tacos de piña, and polvorones tempts me with every inhalation and I get pulled along by the scent like a cartoon dog getting dragged by the smell of steak. Suddenly I find myself walking home with a big paper bag of goodies with no idea how it happened, I swear!
4. Chilli and cinnamon
The air of Mexico is frequently spiced with chilli which often makes you cough before you realize what you can smell. For me, the smell of chillies being scorched on a direct flame is my absolute favorite, but the smell of the chilli and spice stalls in the market runs a close second. Cinnamon is another smell that spices the air in Mexico: hot chocolate and café de olla are mulled and sweetened with this goddess of a spice…and I haven’t even mentioned Mexican oregano or epazote…
5. Gunpowder from fireworks
With every big fiesta comes firecrackers, and with fire crackers comes that lingering smell of gunpowder in the air. Somehow, for me that smell now represents a really good party.
6. Tacos al Pastor
There is no more tempting a smell than Tacos al Pastor. I can sniff out a taco stand getting ready to open from miles away — the spicy, marinated meat offset by the sweet pineapple, all enveloped in a fresh corn tortilla and lightly caressed with salsa. My mouth starts to water, my tummy starts to rumble, and I’m already envisioning my order: “Tres al pastor con todo!”
I really know I’m home when I smell the deep, pungent, earthy smell of mezcal. Living right near a mezcal shop where great vats of the delicious tipple are stored, the smell permeates the air all around. And as they say, Para todo mal…