Cleo Reed shows off the finished product. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Certain smells captivate me. They transport me to a happy place.

Apple pie is one of those aromas. That scent coming from the oven makes me think of Thanksgiving and my mom. It’s funny how a smell can make me be thankful. It’s not the making of the pie or even eating it; it really is the scent.

It’s a kind of aromatherapy. In this case it’s the apples and cinnamon enhancing my physical and mental being.

Scientist Jordan Gaines Lewis in Psychology Today explained why we have such a connection between smell and memories: “The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound), and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas. This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.”

Cleo Reed makes do with a wine bottle to roll out pie dough. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Even when I make apple pie a different time of year, it is mom who I think of first. I’m sure it’s because she is the one who taught me – and all of my sisters – how to make the pie. And, yes, the crust is homemade as well. When she is at my home, I ask her to make the pie even though I know how.

Mom was with me in Todos Santos last Thanksgiving. We were invited to dinner at friends. I volunteered mom to make an apple pie. It’s a recipe that was given to her from her mom, via her grandma.

While I remember mom using pippin apples because of the tartness, they can be hard to come by even in the United States. Granny Smith is a good substitute. I’ve been told it wasn’t that long ago that apples were hard to find in Baja. After all, there are no apple orchards anywhere around here. It’s one of those foods that is imported from the U.S., and easier to come by now that there are so many gringos.

Several steps are involved in making a homemade pie. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

We had to improvise a bit. I don’t have a rolling pin. I provided a wine bottle; one that didn’t have a paper label. The tin came borrowed from a neighbor.

The pie, well, it was a hit. Fortunately, there was enough for breakfast. It really is my favorite breakfast.

We had put foil in the oven to catch any juices that might run out so there wouldn’t be a mess to clean up afterward. I don’t use the oven much. Just last month I turned it on. I thought I was losing my mind when I smelled apple pie. Ah, the juice covered foil.

I smiled. What a great unexpected memory to be triggered. Apple pie and mom will forever be linked in a very special, memorable way.

I was sad throwing that foil away.

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