Kitchen Call: Ballpark scents and tastes

Linda Bassett

The road to the Fenway Park is paved with aromas, in turn nostalgic, exciting, delicious and horrendous. To get the real fan experience, you first need to take in the musty stench of the Kenmore T stop and the fumes that rise from cars and trucks trolling the Massachusetts Turnpike as the happy crowd makes its way across the bridge pointing to the Citgo sign in the distance.

In just blocks, you inhale the first heady scent of Italian sausage, peppers and onions sizzling on the Sausage King’s grill. There are others; oh, yes, the area outside Yawkey Way is riddled with sausage stands vying for customers. Walking along, the smoke from steaks charbroiling at Burton’s Grill adds to the perfume. As do the burgers at Game On at the opposite outer corner of the neighborhood.

Nearing the gate, the roasty, toasty smell of peanuts sings a welcome through white and brown bags, salted or unsalted. Their warmth lingers on your hands as you walk through the turnstile to the assault of mustardy Monster dogs’ tang battling for air space with smoldering barbecue.

As you emerge from under the stands into the light, the shock of the color heralds the bare whiff of the perfectly manicured greenery.

Inside the park, vendors in bright yellow shirts climb into the stands to tempt with piquant puffs of steam from the new Fenway franks, proudly touting these new dogs made locally in Chelsea. More vendors follow, scrambling their way to the rafters with doughy pretzels and ice-cold lemonade. The sugary smell of cotton candy doesn’t hit until the fifth inning, when the little kid with the sticky pink smile (one of the most beautiful sights in the park) in the next seat gets up close and personal, his fingerprints leaving their essence on your Ortiz jersey.

Meanwhile, the latest, a cacophony of grease mixed with jalapenos and burnt garlic, doesn’t mesh with tradition. Give me my hawked peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks I remember from childhood games. But chicken fingers, clam chowder and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee are a distraction in the stands. Keep them imprisoned in the insulated boxes above or the concourse below where the game flickers impersonally on overhead screens.

More acceptable is the foamy smell of beer spilled in the late innings when fans leap from seats to applaud a Jacoby play. The staleness only lingers until the Ortiz jersey hits the laundry the next day to wash away the scent — but not the memory — of the game.

Watching the game at home, you can eat whatever you can dream up — and only you will care about the aroma. Here is an easy menu to accompany a game watched on TV on a spring afternoon or evening.

This delicate herbal soup, served hot or cold, and hearty salad may never be found either over or under the stands of any American ballpark, but it might be something a Mom would find easy to fix after her favorite ballplayer plays six innings on a school night. The line-up of vegetables in the salad makes it easy for little ballplayers to choose their favorites and still get a healthy meal.