My dad used to own a bar. For those of you in dear old Ireland (and other places) you may refer to it as a “pub”.
I liked that bar.
It wasn’t a fancy place. Nothing high fallutin’ about it. It was just a gathering place.
Anna was the cook. I think of her often.
Dad ran it. The boys helped. Every once in a while I would get to. I would stand behind the bar and wash the beer glasses and mugs. There was a three sink system. Hot soapy water with scrubby things that were suctioned to the bottom of the sink. The glasses were turned upside down and scrubbed up and down in the hot soapy water. Then dipped in the blue water. I don’t have a clue what that was. Then dipped in the cold for rinsing. Dad said the difference from hot to cold killed any germs. I don’t care what the science is. It is the only thing I will ever believe about doing dishes because it’s what dad said. So it’s the truth.
So sometimes I worked behind the bar doing the dishes.
Sometimes I worked in the kitchen. Reheating the chili and serving it. Or making hamburgers. I did not care for that job. People are more demanding about their food than their beer. And I was not a confidant child. I got yelled at once for chili being cold. I cried.
What I did like….was the walk in cooler.
It was the oddest smelling place I have ever experienced.
And I miss it.
On the nights when it was hot and smokey it was a little piece of heaven to go in that cooler with all of the cases of beer stacked. And some of the foods. I would sit in there and let my eyes and throat rest from the smoke of the bar.
To this day I don’t think I could identify what some of the smells in that cooler were. Even though the freezer was air tight it had an old but not heavy smoke smell. The cardboard of the beer boxes probably had something to do with it. Maybe salami? I don’t know. For all I know it could have been mold I was smelling.
It was an odd smell.
I’ve never encountered a smell like it in all of the years since dad sold that bar and I’ve never gone in another bar’s walk in freezer.
I would recognize it if I ever smelled it again. Maybe as an adult I wouldn’t like it as much. But I suspect I would. Smelling a long gone part of my childhood would be wonderful. I probably wouldn’t even notice the oddness of it.