Preeta pictured in
I met Preeta when we were both graduate students at the University of Michigan, where I was lucky enough to meet a disproportionately high number of my favorite people. You can learn more about Preeta and her first novel, Evening is the Whole Day, here.
What do you smell like?
What do you like to smell?
The smell of my husband -- vaguely mossy and rainy, but in a good way -- is comforting and calming, like almost everything about him. And all the women in my family smell like spicy sweat and talcum powder, a smell that makes me feel like a child again, in both the good ways and the bad.
Smells I love in the kitchen: first and foremost, fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves. This the the most appetising smell in the world to me, the one smell guaranteed to make my mouth water, even if I've just eaten, even if I'm sick. But there are dozens of others in close second. The stem ends of tomatoes; citrus, especially calamansi limes; ginger (except when I was pregnant: then ginger made me gag). The many Southeast Asian herbs I grew up with: screwpine, torch ginger buds, lemongrass, galangal, laksa leaves, kaffir lime leaves. The food I grew up with is also rife with fishy, funky, briny smells; it's not a subtle cuisine at all. I love those smells -- fermented shrimp paste, salt fish, dried shrimps -- but I have to admit that kitchens in the Western world are not made for them. I love the smell of garlic, shallots, and ginger frying in hot oil (see above). Good black tea, especially in the afternoons. Rose essence (similar to rosewater, which we don't use in Malaysia). Coconut water. Simmering coconut milk. Palm sugar.