If there was a smell in this world that I would hate to never smell again, for me has to be Vanilla. Pure Vanilla, not mixed with magnolia or any of the other things that air fresheners insist on adding. Vanilla to me takes me back to being a small child and before anyone jumps in with a connection to ice cream, well you are wrong. My mother used to make what she called cornflour custard, the world is now full of different brand so powdered custard but back then I can only think of three, Bird’s, Creamola and Mum’s, alright my Mum isn’t a brand, she also wasn’t a very good cook. I used to love School dinners as they were edible all the time, unlike the stuff that appeared on our plates at home. Yet she had one saving grace to the child that was me, cornflour custard.
All custard powders are the same base, cornflour, flavoring and colouring. Except Mums’ it had no colouring and a wonderfully strong vanilla taste. All she did was heat milk, add sugar, vanilla extract and then the slated cornflour. Once cooked through she served it with a handful of Sultanas on top. Not only did we get this glorious pudding after our evening meal on occasions, we also received it as a cure all. Any time we were ill, this bowl of heaven appeared with the sultanas added as a smiley face, it always worked as well as we always got better.
To this day vanilla is still a smell that means instant comfort and home. Smells link us so quickly to places and to people, last night I made a fruity chicken curry and I was back at my Auntie Lorna’s, she was the person how introduced me to the wonders of Indian food. With at little thought I am sure I could find more and more of them but cornflour custard is the one I still make when I feel unwell with something other than my MS and although my nose doesn’t stop running or my cold doesn’t go away, I still feel better.