observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

The rich fragrance of …

What has more personality than black pepper and is sweeter than a rose? Why cinnamon of course. The warm, somewhat spicy, yet woody aroma that some also describe as smoky is unique to all other spices in our cupboards. The sense of smell and how it evokes memories is stronger than an ox on steroids or Popeye full of spinach! Well, those may not be the best analogies but they’ll have to do for now.

“Cinnamon: This spice was once rare and valuable — the main reason for the Portuguese occupation of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1505 was for its superior and extensive cinnamon crop. The dried bark of a tree, cinnamon comes from two sources. The commonly available cassia cinnamon is a dark red-brown and has a strong, sweet taste. Pale tan, delicate-tasting Ceylon cinnamon is grown only in Sri Lanka and is considered by many to be true cinnamon.” — Chuck Williams

I’ve been craving cinnamon toast lately, like my mom used to make for me as a kid and like I made for my son when he was little. It begins with the yeasty aroma of hot toast, with enough butter (yes, real butter) to lightly moisten one side of the toast. Then a generous sprinkling over that piece of buttered toast, topping it off with a light dusting of white sugar. Smear it all together with a butter knife. Now take that first tantalizing bite. Oh yes, memories.

toast, ready to be topped

cinnamon toast n

cinnamon toast

It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” — Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost.

I wanted to share a poem about or including cinnamon and found a particularly lovely one by Michael Ondatje. Unfortunately, his and all the others I found were all of a very strong sexual nature. I leave it to you to seek them out if you choose 😉  I did locate one lovely poem by Mary Oliver from her New and Selected Poems, Volume Onethat has a few perfect lines but I’ll share it in its entirety:

Autumn poplars ©Diane Schuller

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”


Some of my favourite foods with cinnamon, besides cinnamon toast, are cinnamon buns, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and in many recipes of Middle Eastern and Chinese origin. Now you — what are some of your favourite foods with cinnamon? What is one of your strongest food aroma memories?

homemade cinnamon buns by ©Diane M Schuller

homemade cinnamon buns by ©Diane M Schuller

Until next Monday, may you luxuriate in memories of your favourite food aromas.

“Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.” — Lemony Snicket, “When Did You See Her Last?”

apple fell to the ground ©Diane M Schuller

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Toffeeapple - September 26, 2016 - 10:26 am

I used to make cinnamon toat for my daughter when she was younger, though other than that, it is not a spice much in use in my kitchen.

Roberta - September 26, 2016 - 10:33 am

Oh yes, cinnamon is a must especially this time of the year. You can try cinnamon sugar on a buttered tortilla. It’s best if the tortilla is a bit crispy.. I heat it with cast iron…

Lisa Gordon - September 26, 2016 - 5:08 pm

I love anything with cinnamon in it, Diane, and seeing the cinnamon toast here, brings back so many wonderful childhood memories. We always had cinnamon toast for breakfast as the weather got chillier, and like you, I made it for my kids, so many, many times. Even now, they still love it.

Thank you for the memories, my friend.

Jennifer Connell - September 27, 2016 - 6:14 am

My mouth is watering thinking about buttered toast now! Cinnamon is one of those spices that you reach for it in the fall, isn’t it? It especially suits the baking one does at this time of year. I have fond childhood memories of cinnamon toast although we always made ours with brown sugar. Brown sugar has a slightly different flavour than white and compliments cinnamon perfectly. Try it next time you make cinnamon toast.

jessie - September 27, 2016 - 1:58 pm

I love almost everything with cinnamon and when you described the toast with cinnamon and sugar I could almost feel it melt in my mouth, that used to be what I’d have for breakfast with my Granny. Yum!

susan - September 28, 2016 - 6:12 pm

oh my, I can almost smell it! I love all things cinnamon. My mom used to make the best cinnamon bread every Christmas…I have her recipe but have yet to make it myself as it’s an all day activity. Maybe this year I’ll try to find the time.

And you have paired this with another favorite – birch trees! How beautiful!

Candace - September 29, 2016 - 1:56 pm

How fortuitous! Just yesterday I met a friend for lunch and I ordered sweet potato fries as my side dish. They were dusted with cinnamon and were delicious! I had never experienced that before.

I love Mary Oliver and your photos are dreamy and hunger-inducing.

Rachel - September 29, 2016 - 3:49 pm

Beautiful photos in this post! Funny that I haven’t eaten a cinnamon roll in a couple years and just 2 days ago, my technician brought me one from some popular shop near Muncho Lake (maybe you know of the place? I grew up on cinnamon toast as well although we ate it so much that we kept a bowl of cinnamon/sugar on hand in the kitchen at all times (instead of laying it down separately). And yes, real butter is a must! My other favorite childhood memory of cinnamon is when my mom baked pies. The leftover pie crust was rolled flat, covered with butter and cinnamon sugar and baked for about 10 minutes. I still do this every time I bake a pie. I can almost smell it…

Gabriele - October 1, 2016 - 6:41 pm

You are so right about the person who gives you a warm cinnamon roll.

Sherry G. - October 2, 2016 - 2:53 pm

I love this post for so many reasons, Diane! First your gorgeous birch shots. You also remind me of my youth with cinnamon toast. I loved it. Such comfort food. I haven’t had it for ages and ages…cinnamon I use all the time though — good for lowering blood sugar too. And your amazing cinnamon bun shot — I will just eat this with my eyes instead of my mouth. And lastly, that is one of my favourite Mary Oliver poems. The ending is one to take in and remember for ever. Have a great week my friend!

DIANE J PATMORE - October 3, 2016 - 2:05 pm

Late to the party again!
I like cinnamon, though not so much as toast or rolls.But I love some bark in a curry.And a rice pudding.mmm

And I think the earthy poem you mentioned is “The Cinnamon Peeler.”