They say smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. If I could make your screen scratch-n-sniff, I would, and you’d be instantly transported back to the Middle Kingdom.

  1. Chou doufu
  2. Mosquito coils
  3. Getting caught in a cloud of bus exhaust at an intersection while on your bike or scooter in the winter
  4. Boiling hot tea in little glass cups that are too hot to pick up
  5. Hair salons
  6. Walking into an elevator where someone has been smoking
  7. Walking into a conference room or banquet hall where everyone is smoking
  8. Good rice
  9. A traditional pharmacy
  10. The tea they prescribed for you there

  1. A packed bus without a/c on a hot summer afternoon where half the passengers are reaching up to hold onto the handles
  2. The dried sausage section of the supermarket
  3. The seafood section of the supermarket
  4. The tea section of the supermarket
  5. The pickled vegetable section of the supermarket
  6. The entire wet market
  7. The overnight train when everyone has taken off their shoes and is making instant noodles for dinner
  8. Tea eggs in convenience stores
  9. Pomelo lanterns
  10. Osmanthus trees in bloom
  11. Freshly cooked zhenzhu at milk tea shops
  12. Flooded sewers
  13. Shaokao
  14. Steaming pots of zongzi, corn, and eggs at long-distance bus stations
  15. Open trough squatties
  16. Lines of watermelon trucks, each with one melon sliced open for samples
  17. Lines of fresh flower stalls at the bird & flower market
  18. Incense and red candles at temples
  19. Chili smoke from hot woks that makes you cough
  20. Lanzhou lamian
  21. Baijiu
  22. A rowdy group that has been drinking too much baijiu
  23. Durian
  24. Calligraphy ink
  25. Sticky red ink for official chops
  26. The cypress trees at Temple of Heaven
  27. Five spice
  28. Fake vanilla, fake butter, fake cream, and real yeast in bakeries
  29. Little pots of rice paste glue at the post office
  30. Over-chlorinated swimming pools that still manage to have musty changing rooms
  31. Chestnuts roasting in giant woks
  32. Quail eggs roasting in giant woks
  33. Paint, asphalt, dust, and everything else at a construction site
  34. Cheap kids’ shoe stores
  35. Hot pot
  36. Staircases inside apartment blocks that have just been mopped
  37. Rice fields burning
  38. Freshly made doujiang and corn juice next to steaming baskets of baozi
  39. The food they sell to feed koi at the park
  40. 1.3 billion people setting off fireworks all at once

Which was your favorite? What would you add to this list?

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