Although displaying already the stigmata of a metropolis – pollution, filthiness, overpopulation – Bucharest sometimes seems just a big conglomerate of small villages, of narrow cobblestoned streets, filled with houses of various ages.
This is why the smellscape of the city would have to include areas choked by fumes and dirt, as well as small oasis of rustic, raw, fresh scents which awaken a vague nostalgia in the city dweller, inspire bucolic fantasies in the passerby, and bring to life the ghost of the other, much older city which lies dormant beneath the layers of asphalt and concrete.
As it happens, my work assignment took me to one of the streets whose ends dissolve into big boulevards, a sort of a time passage between two black vortexes filled with hurried people and speeding cars.
On this small, quiet street, on the first floor of a house with many balconies, I sampled the flavors of the neighborhood. They were delicious and, alas, so rare in an otherwise generous city.
The smellscape there was like a Tiramisu: a soft, puffy, effulgent coating which hid delicious chunks of flavor. At first it smelled of warm cobblestones and wrought iron and, strangely, of something which resembled some slightly scented rubbing alcohol. Then came the delicious, crunchy smell of home-baked bread. Then the poignant flavor of freshly-dug soil.
It was like being on a trip far away from the hysterical city, a trip slowly coming to an end as I was tasting the warm, moist, sweetish smell of my own skin as it basked in the sun and creeping back into my old self.