Tomatoes, ripened on the vine—always a sign of the end of summer and the time to feel the approach of autumn.

Some people look at a calendar to know when the seasons change. I have found that it’s not difficult to detect the exquisitely calibrated changes of natural cycles. Listen to the leaves. By the first of September they have lost their spring moisture. The unmistakable sound of dryness is picked up by the autumn breezes. The leaves are dreaming of falling—to make room for winter.

“One August afternoon in Milan, I was wandering through the art deco corridors of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, admiring the marble inlays in the cafe-strewn sidewalks, when I spied a conveniently located gelateria. My eyes savored the colors of pistachio, lemon, and mint, but my mouth zeroed in on the brilliant pink of amarena—the slightly sour cherries that grow in Italy.

Yes, I would like two scoops of that! Somehow the brilliant pink scoop of gelato echoed the architecture of the northern Italian city. It tasted Italian, and so does the memory of that afternoon that returns every time I encounter sweet-tart amarena gelato. Italian foods are about enjoyment of the moment— robust, supple, happy flavors without trickiness and frills. For that, there is French cuisine!

Cold beer for me is forever fused with the indolent pleasures of Mexican beaches. Exhausted from swimming and body surfing, I say yes every time to a cold Corona with lime. How can you beat the perfect match of the malty ice coldness of the beer and righteous physical weariness on a hot day? These sensations entwine as indelibly as temple ruins, scarlet embroidery, and fresh-caught fish grilled on the beach. Or my mother’s brown sugar brownies: One taste and I’m back in her kitchen scooping the warm cookies onto the silvery wire racks to cool.” [from Inside the Flame: the joy of treasuring what you already have]

Remember some of the flavors that have stayed with you, that have remained favorites throughout your life. Such a pleasure. Savor more from my recent sensory memoir, Inside the Flame.