What’s Cooking Wednesday: What’s That Smell?

 

"Pie Judging Contest with Dr. Louise Stanley and Mary Lindsay (ARC 5729294) How would these ladies judge our pie smell?

 

Leave a comment on the bottom of this post telling us your favorite food smell. and you’ll be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Eating with Uncle Sam from the Foundation for the National Archives!

Smells are everywhere. Realtors bake cookies and make coffee to help sell houses. Proud owners of new cars draw in deep breaths of “new car smell.” But did you ever smell an exhibit in a museum?

Visitors to “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” might notice something different about this exhibit. Or at least, their noses might notice.

For the first time, the National Archives has added a smell to an exhibit.

Alice Kamps, the curator of “What’s Cooking,” suggested the idea, and soon exhibition designer Ray Ruskin was tackling the challenge of making this odiferous dream a reality. He faced two problems: size and smell.

The Lawrence O’Brien Gallery, where the exhibit is located, is not very large, and he was concerned that the space would not contain the smell. Would visitors to the Rotunda be sniffing the air as they looked at the Constitution? And there was concern that a smell would permanently linger in the air system of the space even after the exhibit closed.

The other issue Ray faced was the smell of the smell. Since the exhibit has four sections—farm, factory, kitchen, and table—it seemed like four scents would be ideal. As the visitor moved into a new part of the exhibit, there would be a new smell that suggested the theme. However, as he received samples of scents from companies, it became clear that some smells were better left unsniffed.

“We struggled to find something,” Ray said. “If something did remind us of a farm, it wasn’t anything we wanted to subject people to.”

In the end, he went with a single smell throughout the exhibit: apple pie.

“It’s a complex thing—there’s cinnamon burning, undertones of butter,” said Ray. “There’s a lot of notes going on.”

Go and smell it for yourself! The exhibit closes on January 3, 2011, and the smell will be only an olfactory memory.

If you think this pie sounds delicious, you'll love the rest of our historic recipes in "Eating with Uncle Sam." Tell us your favorite food smell in the comments below to be entered in a random drawing. One lucky commenter will receive a complimentary copy of the book from the Foundation for the National Archives.

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42 Responses to What’s Cooking Wednesday: What’s That Smell?

  1. Peggy Ann Brown says:

    Love the idea of the pecan topping — combines my 2 favorite Thanksgiving pies!

    Like

  2. Alexis says:

    Favorite smell: APPLE CINNAMON PIE!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  3. Stella S. says:

    Homemade marinara sauce. The aromas of the garlic, onions, roasted tomatoes, and fresh herbs fill the entire house.🙂

    Like

  4. Amy Burdge says:

    My favorite smells are savory. There are few better than those of a roasting chicken.

    Like

  5. Eileen Bray says:

    Favorite smells: pumpkin pie, baking bread, mom’s turkey dressing…anything “Thanksgiving!”

    Like

  6. Jacqueline Bartek says:

    I love the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. When you walk into a kitchen during this glorious event you can almost taste the brown sugar and chocolate chips in the air. I think I have just talked myself into baking a batch.

    Like

  7. Sheila Fisher says:

    A fire place with hickory wood burning and crackling. Nothing makes a house smell more like a home than a wood burning fireplace on a frosty winter morning! MMMMMM

    Like

  8. Erin O. says:

    The absolute best baking smell is fresh bread. It reminds me of my mom’s house and chilly fall days. It’s always amazing how smells and memory are so closely tied.

    Like

  9. Rhonda Willard says:

    My favorite food smell can’t be narrowed to just one. I love the smell of cookies baking in the oven and also the smell of cinnamon when added to recipes.

    Like

  10. Michelle Z. says:

    Roasting chile peppers. In New Mexico, where I used to live, in the fall every grocery store and little roadside stand had a large barrel chile roaster. It smells utterly “Autumn” when combined with the pinon fires every has in their beehive fireplaces. No place but the American Southwest smells that way!

    Like

  11. Debbie McD says:

    Onions and garlic starting any meal over a camp fire, and baking bread any ol’ place. YUM!

    Like

  12. Jamie P. says:

    I agree with Stella S. Homemade marinara sauce is the best food smell. It makes me think of my mom every time!

    Like

  13. Sharon G says:

    My favorite food smell is bacon frying. It smells like morning – both lazy and filled with possibilties.

    Like

  14. Jill Nagy Anderson says:

    The smells of Thanksgiving, with all of my favorite foods cooking! But if a girl has to pick one, it would definitely be pie!

    Like

  15. Gail Waisanen says:

    Bread baking. Nothing else comes close.

    Like

  16. H. Browning says:

    I love the smell of home-made cinnamon rolls in the oven. The mix of the baking yeast and the strong cinnamon. Its the best ever. mmmmmm!

    Like

  17. Hannah Rosen says:

    I love the smell of Charles H Baldwin and Sons vanilla. I rarely bake, but I always buy vanilla just to be able to smell it!

    Like

  18. L Jones says:

    The smell of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon baking during the holidays.

    Like

  19. Gloria Bartosik says:

    My favorite is Roast Turkey with all the trimmings!

    Like

  20. Cyndy says:

    Anything cooked by my Italian grandmother!

    Like

  21. barbara_y says:

    Baking bread. Driving in the evening, car windows down, you catch that smell and want to follow it home.

    Like

  22. Kimberly Henricks-Friedhoff says:

    My favorite food smells are typically savory … a chicken roasting in the oven … cinnamon rolls … getting hungry just thinking about it!

    Like

  23. Holly Chamberlain says:

    My mom’s applesauce cake, redolent with cinnamon and cloves.

    Like

  24. Cathy Harms says:

    My favorite smell in the kitchen is fresh bread baking.

    Like

  25. DLJWBJ says:

    Favorite smell would be onions sauteing because that is the start to so many fantastic recipes. Matter of fact tonight it is leading to beef stew!

    Like

  26. Dianne says:

    I love the smell of fresh coffee in the morning, right before the first sip that wakes you up!

    Like

  27. jenean c gilstrap says:

    hmmm…only one favorite? oh, dear! first, fresh bread baking, i’d have to say – particularly yeast rolls – and then, the list includes anything with garlic, fried chicken, vanilla anything, and rum/brandy laden fruit cakes my grandmother used to bake in coffee cans during the holidays!

    Like

  28. Catherine Shreve says:

    Anything made with teriyaki sauce. I grew up in Hawaii–was there when it became a state–and my mom learned to create a lot of Japanese dishes.

    Like

  29. Anna says:

    The smell of chocolate and coffee!

    Like

  30. Darin says:

    My all time favorite smell was my grandma’s pot roast. She’s been gone for a while now but when I smell a similar roast it transports me back in time to a Sunday afternoon at grandma’s house.

    Also love the smell of a freshly ground and brewed coffee on a chilly fall morning.

    Like

  31. Linda says:

    Smell of cinnamon rolls baking on a cold morning with hot chocolate

    Like

  32. Anne Gometz says:

    Swedish style cardamom apple pie. And fruit soup!

    Like

  33. Betsy V says:

    We live in a cold climate with snowy winters. My husband walked to and from school, so I liked to have something that smelled good in the oven or on the stove when he came home. Bread baking was a favorite, along with the fragrance of homemade soup simmering on the stove. Husband says these aromas always remind him of me, our children, our house.

    Like

  34. Scott says:

    Pine trees.

    Like

  35. J Haack says:

    Where to begin? There are so many wonderful cooking and baking smells, but if I have to say one, fresh baked bread ranks up at the top.

    Like

  36. Judith Richards Shubert says:

    Love the smell of banana nut bread, in and out of the oven.

    Like

  37. Michelle says:

    During this time of year, I long for the smell of French-Canadian stuffing.

    Like

  38. Cindy Ryding says:

    I love the smells that Fall baking brings – pumpkin bread, apple pie, and homemade bread!

    Like

  39. Slavica says:

    Since i make great cakes,i would give my vote to a nice fruit cake with strawberry or some of rum scent, for instance…Also the smell of coffee to roast is a dream

    Like

  40. April says:

    I have to agree that the savories are my favorites, Cumin always has me craving chili and tex-mex. Garlic, Oregano and Basil are probably my runner ups.

    Like

  41. DeAnn says:

    I love almost any food scent except fish (and company) that has been around just a little too long, but when it is really cold outside a little curry cooking does the trick to pick me up and make me a little happier.

    Like

  42. becky says:

    my favorite smell is Thanksgiving dinner in the oven waiting for family to arrive AWESOME!!!!!

    Like

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