Before most baked goods were bought at the grocery store every city and town had a bakery. They still do in the larger cities and many countries in Europe. While convenience is a good thing, I think we lost something when bakeries became big business supplying the chain stores...the aroma of baking. One of the things that made me want to learn how to bake was that aroma that seems to surround places where all kinds of things are being baked. The mom and pop bakeries really don't have to do much advertising because the smells of fresh baked goods draws the customer in. Apparently the smell of fresh baked bread is especially potent and there have actually been scientific studies as to why. The research, carried out in France where even the smallest town seems to have a boulangerie (bakery) found out that the aroma of freshly baking bread tended to make people kinder, suggesting that certain smells trigger a more positive mood and makes people kinder. Another study done in Ireland reported that the smell of freshly baked breads, cakes, and cookies promote a " Pavlovian response in almost everyone because it prompts 'odour-cued memories' at a subconscious level which catapult people back to very specific points in their childhoods." That said, it is little wonder why personal baking is such an important part of Christmas preparations for so many of us. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I seldom bake cookies during the rest of the year because I would eat them all, to the detriment of my waistline. But the with the spirit of benevolence and good cheer surrounding the holidays, I can treat myself to the aromas and others with the results. It's a win/win. Later today I am planning to try a new recipe, "Carmelized Sugar Cookies." Hopefully there will be some delicious smells coming from my kitchen afterwards.