“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.”
Our sense of smell is the strongest that is tied to memory. I have the nose of a bloodhound which is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing when I am smelling the roses of the Rodin museum in Paris, but a curse when the breeze in Bangkok is wafting the smell of live eels for sale in the open market up my nose. These smells will never escape my memory.
By smelling a country we are smelling their culture. The smells give our brain a way to decipher where in the world we are standing in that moment because we can associate those smells with similar more familiar ones. On that note, even if they are similar to smells we have previously experienced, they will be distinct and native to that country alone.