I was baking this morning and after I'd put the vanilla in the brownie batter, I touched the inside of the measuring spoon with my finger and dabbed some vanilla extract behind each ear. As I did so, I could almost hear my grandmother's voice saying, "It's the cook's perfume."
It reminded me that I had already extended the "cook's perfume" tradition to my niece. When she comes over to my house, she loves to bake with me. Early on, I taught her about perfuming herself with vanilla while she baked and I remember how delighted she was at the idea.
I didn't think much about it at the time, but it makes me happy to know that at least three generations (and probably many more before that) have all taken part in such a charming little ritual.