Market Smells

I brought seven dead-ripe rock melons in from the garden yesterday afternoon. The smell in the kitchen was overpowering, and took me directly to Roots Market, a large farmers’ market in Lancaster County PA, on a hot July day.

For me, the smell of ripe melons = Roots. I’m not entirely certain why—there are many competing smells at the market. Perhaps because in the mid-1980s a melon grower had a stall at the entrance where my family always arrived, so it was the first smell I experienced every time. Whatever the reason, that smell will forever be associated with that market in my mind.

I’ve been to many farmers’ markets since the mid-80s. Memorable smells accompany many of them.

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was basil, which my housemates and I bought by the grocery-bag for pesto.

In Panama, the market in Penonome was where my husband and I shopped every week or two. The meat-sellers’ area was screened from the flies, but the screen didn’t stop the smell of beef, pork, chicken and fish on display in the tropical heat from wafting through the market.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, I remember the smell of flowers and sweet corn.

I haven’t been to many farmers’ markets here in New Zealand, because I grow all our vegetables, but as a seller in Leeston, I remember the smell of my friend Cris’s homemade bagels.

Pretty cool how smell can act as a teleportation device, spanning distance and time in an instant.

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