Cheap Thrills: Mint

Most of the best smells are very, very cheap. Hurrah! One of my favorites is mint. Not peppermint, just regular old mint. If you’re not clear on the difference between pepper and regular, I’m talking about the mint you’ll find in a mojito. To me, mint smells like a summer garden. If it were a drink, it would be prosecco – cheering, cool, bubbly, and fun. 

Because mint is used so commonly in hygiene products, I find it’s easy to expect that the plant will smell sterile. But when I smell the fresh leaf, while it certainly smells ‘clean’, it also smells warm and green and sunshiney. Delicious.

My recommendation to you is to pick (or buy) a bunch of fresh mint, and put it in a vase on your bedside table. Pinch it every once in a while to help the smell disperse. It will certainly add some delight to your sleeping time, and I wonder – will it affect your dreams? Let me know if you try!

Now here are two mint memories of mine, for readers with stamina:

I once had the good fortune to live with a Moroccan family in Fez for six weeks, while I took Arabic classes. Every morning I was given fresh mint tea with breakfast. It’s made with a little bit of gunpowder green tea, a LOT of fresh mint, and a LOT of sugar. I loved it, and I think that experience is part of why I have such fondness for mint now. Here is a video I found on youtube explaining how to make it yourself. I cannot recommend it enough! And don’t skimp on the sugar, that’s key. 

I had one other highly memorable experience with mint in Fez. On a tour of the old medina, we stopped in a leather goods store whose back porch had an excellent view of the tannery. The tannery is basically many open-air stone vats filled with dyes and curing liquids for the animal hides. These hides are cured with lime and pigeon droppings, and the smell is potent. The store owner gave us bunches of fresh mint to hold in front of our noses while we watched the men at work in the tannery. The power of the mint to counteract the smell of animal flesh and poop was impressive. 

(By the way, working in the tannery is one of the more dangerous jobs out there. Workers (often teenagers) stand in the vats with the hides to wash and scrape them, thus exposing themselves to a lot of very dangerous bacteria, and there is also a lot of accidental injury. This is true of many tanneries in different countries.)

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