I'm not sure I can explain it. It's not a food allergy but it is a powerful instinctive sensory reaction. When we were kids, me and my brother, who shares this repulsion, bonded over it. We'd throw one another shifty glances of concern and dismay when dining with certain relatives who cooked with harrowing amounts of animal fat and whose flatware always had a certain, perspiration-inducing stench. We used to try and subtlely sniff cutlery when dining out to make sure that nothing (spoons in particular were a source of alarm) didn't possess The Smell. Water glasses were most suspect. If, regrettably, we learned that we had drunk from a tainted glass before performing the ritual, our involuntary reflex was an instantaneous, explosive gag. We always agreed on what smelled bad and what didn't and our parents thought we were finicky- and nuts.
Then, last week, I came to Lebanon. My mother's homeland, though she wasn't raised here. Today, I met with a local anthropologist and a food writer, among others, for a wonderful, delicious lunch. When it was time for dessert, one of my dining companions dipped his spoon into his ice cream, lifted it to his mouth, sniffed, then quietly set the spoon down and whispered conspiratorially, "Avoid the ice cream, it's al-zinkha".
This led to a fascinating discussion about a cultural sensitivity to the smell of certain animal products.
Everyone at the table understood the impulse perfectly. Some thought it might be hereditary, as in the case of those present who had been raised abroad, but could not, for example, abide the smell of their breakfast plates after all the runny egg had been eaten, and had separate quarantined sponges in the kitchen for such tasks.
Okay, so this has little peculiarity has played a background note in many of my food-related adventures since childhood, but until lunch today, it had never occurred to me that it wasn't a less than charming personal idiosyncrasy. I was so excited to discover that I wasn't alone that I came home and googled it immediately. Alas and alack, I found nothing.
Does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about?
Edited by Verjuice, 30 June 2006 - 07:00 AM.