The sense of smell is so amazing and strange. I’m sitting in a chilly corporate apartment in midtown Manhattan, facing a bare wall and an aggressively contemporary lamp. But a foot and a half to my left is half a brioche, left over from breakfast, and every so often a whiff of it hits me. The smell makes me feel like I’m in France, with the crazy host family I stayed with when I was 13. I can see the heavily padded silk walls of the living room, and the corner you turned to go into the bright, narrow kitchen of their townhouse. I need to figure out what it is in certain pastries, combined with butter, that smells like France.