The Smells of Neighborhood Kitchens

Ditmas Park is a lucky neighborhood for a number of reasons, not least of which is the simple but important fact that it can smell very good around here (for the most part). That’s a lot more than some neighborhoods can say.

Neighbor, author and Brooklyn College professor Samir Chopra recently wrote about the smells of neighborhood kitchens:

In all my years in this neighborhood, it has been a rare day that I’ve not wondered as I have walked around in the surrounding streets, or walked up the stairs to my apartment: ‘Mmmm…what is that?’ Sometimes, I can make some of the ingredients–fish for instance–sometimes I can hazard a guess at the ethnic origin of the cook. Sometimes, I am utterly and totally stumped, my sensory receptors bewildered by the rich combinations of spices, meats and vegetables being transformed by expert human manipulation, kitchen tools and heat in someone’s proximal, and yet frustratingly out of reach kitchen.

Being surrounded by Pakistani, Italian, Caribbean, Turkish and Chinese families comes with sometimes perplexing but mostly delicious smells. Most of all, one learns self-control in not simply knocking on their door and asking for a dinner plate. Have you followed the trail of mystery smells and learned any new dishes from neighbors, or are we all admiring these smells from afar?

Photo via Mukti’s Kitchen