When I recall my very first encounter with this intoxicating smell, I step back in time to my grandmother’s garden. It is a vision of discovery, mystery, grounding, warmth and happiness.
And it starts with my grandmother’s quite unusual house.
After a lifetime living in the medina (traditional old city), the family had relocated in the 1950s to La Ville Nouvelle (modern city), the very French new quarter in town.
Mostly European in style with hints of mysterious courtyards and lush gardens interspersed, the home’s design was emblematic of French architecture from this period.
My grandmother’s house had two entrances. Like many households, the main one was reserved for formal guests, affording them direct access into the ornate reception, while the second entrance, through the back of the house, led to a courtyard and kitchen and was where day-to-day life took place. The second entrance led one through a maze of a garden, the centerpiece of which was an orange tree. Most of the year, the tree was bare. But in springtime, it came into full bloom. One had to walk through clouds of green leaves and orange blossom.