What smell brings back happy memories? Start with the smell and lead into the happy memory. Tell it like a story.

What smell brings back happy memories? Start with the smell and lead into the happy memory. Tell it like a story.

The comal is so hot, that if it were not made of clay it would be on fire. The coals and corn husks underneath have begun to let off smoke. In the morning, the streets smell like a long line of campfires. But, it is just the smell of breakfast. Fresh, homemade corn tortillas sizzle as they flop onto the comal. They do not carry the sweet smell typically associated with corn, instead it is almost bitter. It makes your mouth water the same way thinking about pickles or vinegar chips does.

I stand there with my mother, watching her flip the tortillas. Memelas, molotes, tostados, quesadillas, empanadas she yells out to passers-by, advertising what she has to offer each and every morning. Her hands touch the scalding comal and tortilla without issue. She never shouts in pain, they way I do if I get too close. Is she a super-hero? Can she control fire?

She smiles down at me. What do you want to eat, mijito? She asks.
I point at the memelas and ask for two. She gives me three, because I am a growing boy who needs energy to go to school.

And then, we are here. And there are no comals, and no memelas except for in my kitchen. There is not a community of eaters, of sellers, of street food. Suddenly, breakfast comes in a box and lunch is vacuum packed and my father’s bakery exists only in our oven.