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Flavors, Scents and Memories

Steamed dumplings with rice wrappers.

Recently at a late dim sum luncheon in Guangzhou, one of the dishes was a dumpling with a rice wrapper and vegetables inside. After taking a bite, I found that the dumpling had some herbs in it that tasted soapy to me. In the discussion that followed, we couldn’t decide if the herbs were lemongrass or cilantro. While Tina and Taylor agree me that cilantro tastes soapy, they didn’t understand why lemongrass tastes soapy to me. I had to then explain the association of lemongrass and soap.

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting near the top of the stairs that led into the basement. The basement in our house was divided in half by an unfinished 2×4 beam wall and one of those halves was “Mom’s soap lab”. When Mom would make soap, we could sit at the top of the stairs and watch her mix the soap. We could only enter “the lab” if all the soap had been safely poured into a mold and if Mom or Dad were with us. I remember sniffing all the bars of soap and the fragrances straight from their containers.

Anyway, on to my point about the association of lemongrass and soap. Mom has always loved happy and cheerful scents, so the shelves always had an abundance of fruity fragrances. One of my favorite soaps that Mom made was a lemon soap that the scraps were rolled into balls for household use. Since kids often bathe with open mouths, you can guess what happened once. Yes, I got a mouthful of lemon soap water. I don’t remember if Mom used Lemongrass Essential Oil in her lemon soap but years later when I packed that oil in the MMS warehouse, I got that same “taste” of lemon soapy water.

Once I shared the memory, I asked if the fragrances we smell as kids affect the foods we like later as adults. We had a fun time talking about scents, memories and our preferences now as adults. The conversation took great turns as we each mentioned fond memories, funny experiences and intriguing thoughts. One thought that was tossed on the table was play areas at fast food restaurants. Usually when kids go to these places with their parents, they don’t eat much of their food and they have fun running around and playing. Those happy and fun memories lead to us liking those restaurants as adults because the smell is similar to that of our happy memories and those very memories can influence us subconsciously.

What scents are linked to your childhood memories? Tomorrow we will share some of our favorite childhood scents.

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This recipe is the basic recipe that we use to test fragrances, colors or other additives.


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