08 January 2008
Cinnamon and its Soothing Charms
There was a time, oh 15 or 20 years ago, when small shops that smelled of cinnamon abounded. These little shops with names like “The Country Goose,” or “The Village Peddler,” sold all manner of quilts and candles and baskets and other primitive items made of wood and often badly painted - craft not folk art.
I loved them. An urban dweller at the time, I found them fascinating, not so much for the merchandise but for the aroma. I’ve collected quilts and baskets since I was a teenager, and on winter nights I like nothing better than the warm companionship of a lighted candle. But it was always the scent that seduced me.
And I am a fool for the medley of aromas released by cinnamon and apples. My larder is never without a supply of apples, and right now my cupboard boasts no less than three small bottles of cinnamon and probably a dozen cinnamon sticks. A dessert made with apples and cinnamon - from tarts to plain baked apples - are always favorites at my house. And my husband and I love home-made applesauce - now there is something that is comforting to make!
Three years ago in a small yellow kitchen in the Lot Valley, I found deep contentment scrambling together an apple crisp one night while an owl hooted outside in the spring dusk.
Last May, on a stormy Friday night in Paris, I made baked apples in an ovenless kitchen, using a microwave, packets of sugar from the café at Musée d’Orsay and grating my own cinnamon with a small nutmeg grater.
I have since determined this is the best way to get cinnamon. There is a ritual to it, and that enhances the process of obtaining cinnamon. So much more enchanting than sprinkling it from a jar.
There is something about the simplicity of this act that soothes me and makes me content.
There are times when it is quite enough.
What small acts soothe you in the kitchen?