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Gifted Gourmet

Food smells: Favorites? Least favored?

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I dearly love the smell of bread baking, apple-cinnamon desserts baking, roasting chicken, fragrant chicken soup simmering on the stove top, and caramelizing onions.

I do not like the smell of cruciferous vegetables at the point (and after!) they are overcooked, overcooked bitter garlic, too fishy anything.

So, eGullet posters one and all, what are your top favorite food smells and least favorite?? :rolleyes:

Do any remind you or either pleasant or unpleasant childhood memories? :hmmm:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The first thought that came to my mind: Garlic frying in olive oil.

Second thought: The delicious smell in an Indian store that sells many different kinds of spices.

Food smells I don't like: The stinky tofu dish I've smelled in Spicy & Tasty really smells like ass (sort of like a fart, actually)! I think I'll try it eventually (I've had fermented tofu as an ingredient, albeit not nearly an overwhelming one, in dishes I liked), but it'll be hard.

Durian smells terrible but really good ones taste good.

I suppose belacan (shrimp sauce) can stink, but I'm used to it and enjoy it as long as it's not used in excessive amounts like my landlady in Malaysia used to do.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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ah yes, frying garlic in butter gently ... ummmm... sweetest perfume ever!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Onions and garlic cooking are some of my favorites, or any meat slow-braising.

The perfume of onion confit cooking all day in the crock pot is enough to make me want to make it even if I already have a full bowl in the fridge.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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This is just too much to bear. How could you ask these things?!

This night is going to go on endlessly with my mind filling with sublime aromas...aromas are sometimes better than the food itself (especially with untried restaurants...)

Yes...a gently weeping onion on its way to caramelization in sweet butter is at the ultimate top of the list.

Then just take a walk down a NYC street. Curries, sweet and punguent come from one window...garlic-y tomato sauce cries for attention from another. The not-to-ever-be dismissed smell of fresh bread baking wafts from the back of a bakery to capture your attention till the next step brings the aroma of roast lamb from the Greek place. Enticing dark roast coffee giggles out from the Cuban place and the so-many coffeeshops...and to top the whole thing off there is Hardees doing its Big Boy Angus Steakburger thing out the side vent.

You are leading us into thoughts of temptations, Melissa. Naughty, naughty...

Oh. Before I go, let me just mention Little Italy and the bakeries. The Lower East Side and the pickles and pastrami. Sausage and peppers grilling at whatever Italian Festival is ongoing. Roast duck from Chinatown around the corner. Please. Stop me, someone.

I am going to go have a cup of tea...mint of course...and forget about all this. I hope.

:unsure::shock:

P.S. Barbecued ribs. Simmering greens. Cornbread fresh from the oven.

What's not to like?

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I like the usual suspects--garlic and onion frying, bread baking--but my dislikes may be a little more unusual: fried chicken and baking ham. I often smell these when I'm out walking, and they seem like sickening, unnatural smells out-of-doors.

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Favorites: Roasting garlic. My grandfather's chili. And a brand-new one: the steak-fries at Acacia here in town, with garlic, parmesan and truffle oil. Holymoley!

Unfavorites: Any outdoor fish market. I've experienced this in Hawaii and in various Chinatowns around the country. Just does NOT work at all.


"My tongue is smiling." - Abigail Trillin

Ruth Shulman

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vanilla...not sure what it is about it but i love the smell of a fresh vanilla bean

i love the smell of cinnamon whether in cooking or air freshener or even a scented candle if its the right kind...they remind me of when i was growing up and my mother would bake....apple pies....oatmeal cookies...peanut butter cookies...chocolate chip cookies...i love the smell of garlic being sauteed in olive oil..add a little mushrooms and onions to the mix..even better...i love the smell fo fresh baked bread ... i love the smell of oranges and strawberries and the scent created..(not to mention the flavor) of how a fresh bing cherry smells after u have taken a bite from it.. i love the smell of a smoky bbq...the smell it creates when u have added hikcory chips to it and the smell created in smoky smell some bbq restaurants have the moment u walk in the door ....i love the smell of fresh rosemary on my fingers after it has been on my hands....and i could go on and on about the food scents that i do love....but i think thats enough to go with

some food smells i dont like...top of the list...a rotten egg :wub: and i think we can all agree on that one without having to go into the why's of it...dont care for the smell of fish that has gone bad..or for any food that has gone bad...but some are worse than others.....i dont care for the smnell of cilantro...of course i also dont care for the taste either .... though i keep trying to get to like it...im hoping someday i will find something that its in where i cant taste it but where it still enhances whatever it is being used in... i also cant stomach the smell of buttermilk and i sure wouldnt drink it straight..but will use it in recipes calling for it as u cant taste it anyway since its mixed in with other things and while im sure there r other food smells i dont care for...these r the ones off the top of my head


Edited by ladyyoung98 (log)

a recipe is merely a suggestion

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none of y'all have said bacon bacon bacon?


Edited by jpdchef (log)

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Love:

Rich, deeply chocolately brownies as they're cooling. I never let them get too cool.

Coq au vin

The freshest fruit in season - I regularly walk up to the produce vendors at the farmer's markets and just get my nose down, almost touching the fruit. Nothing transports like that heady aroma of peaches, or the crisp sweetness of just picked apples.

Taking my cue from Carrot Top; walking around the Pike Place Market here in Seattle and getting the wafts of whatever produce is in season (see above), the french bakery, smoked fish, baking piroschkys, the greek place, lentil soup at the turkish place, espresso being brewed, mini donughts being fried... guess I know where I'm going tomorow morning...

Frying garlic/onion in good olive oil, the begining to so many good things.

The aroma emitted by a smokehouse working it's magic on meat or salmon

Hot cocoa after a day in the snow

Sliced cucumber. Nothing's as fresh and clean.

The scent of Beaumes de Venise can make me insanely happy without even taking a sip.

Hate:

The stench of the stockpot that had been simmering overnight when I was on the early shift on my externship - it was stomach turning at 5:30am, and my first task of the day was to strain gallons of the stuff.

That nasty boiled cabbage smell in airless apartment hallways.

The noxious fumes from the pot of boiling chinese herbs I tried once from an herbalist.

Cooked brussels sprouts

Burnt anything

And right now, while they're tarring the roof of a building behind where I work, the intense horrible combination of hot tar and frying garlic from the Thai restaurant. Just awful.


Edited by lala (log)

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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Durian smells terrible but really good ones taste good.

How does one eat a durian? Use one hand to clip the nose and the other to deliver a slice to the mouth? Or just endure the smell for the taste?


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Least Favourite Smell: Stuck on a plane with everyone eating instant noodles as snack, I felt like throwing up after smelling instant noodles air for an hour.

Dirty Oil Smell from restaurant, especially Chinese restaurant and fast food restaurant.

I love both the taste and smell of durian.

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How does one eat a durian?[...]just endure the smell for the taste?

That's what I do.

The thing is, the smell isn't quite so bad when you know you may like the taste, if you know what I mean.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Truffle oil; fresh basil; a deglazing pan of brown bits, garlic, and wine, reducing... :wub:

There really aren't many food smells that I don't like -- none enough to list, anyway.


Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I'm pretty much an olfactory omnivore when it comes to food. There are very few exceptions (see below). I like the smell of most anything cooking. It makes me happy.

My main negative reaction is to rosemary. Please don't make me tell the rosemary story.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My main negative reaction is to rosemary. Please don't make me tell the rosemary story.

You know we're going to wheedle you to tell it now, don't you? For the record, I love the smell of rosemary and most any type of evergreen, but rosemary is strong and it is possible to use too much of that good thing in a dish. Ditto for thyme, another great but rather strong herb.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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In middle of the long day that is the making of chicken stock, after you've slowly raised the temperature on the bones, and skimmed away the scum, and the pale pink proten-rich liquid turns to clear brown, and you place the mire-poix and garlic and peppercorns and thyme, rosemary and parsley, there's a moment - it lasts for around 10 minutes - when the whole lot comes up to temperature, when the fragrance suddenly blooms and fills the room with the most incredibly fragrant and floral bouquet. It is perfection.


"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Okay, okay, Pan, I am going to tell the rosemary story and then go to bed and have nightmares and related post-traumatic stress experiences.

Back in 1986 when I was a junior in high school I spent Christmas in California at the home of some friends of friends. They were warm, wonderful, generous people who also happened to be excellent cooks. This was the era during which people who could cook French food were referred to as "gourmet cooks."

Anyway, for about a week we ate very well indeed. But for Christmas dinner a turkey was prepared according to a recipe from some magazine, probably Gourmet, and the recipe involved the entire rosemary harvest of the state of California. There was rosemary under the skin of the turkey and there were pieces of it sticking out of the skin, making the turkey look like a chia pet or a hedgehog. There was rosemary in the stuffing. And there was rosemary in the gravy. For good measure, a rosemary potato dish was prepared as one of the sides.

Well, let me tell you, there is a certain saturation of rosemary beyond which there is no turning back. I ate so much rosemary that, for the next two days, my breath smelled of rosemary, I was burping rosemary, and even my sweat had a rosemary edge to it. My reaction to it became increasingly visceral, so much so that later in the week when I smelled rosemary upon walking into a restaurant I became dizzy and weak kneed and needed to brace myself against a stranger to keep from passing out (nobody in Los Angeles considered that behavior to be the slightest bit odd, though, and she actually wound up inviting me to a party, but that's another story involving a DWI checkpoint and the questionable status of my New York State junior driver's license).

To this day, if I get a serious hit of pure rosemary smell I still have that reaction. Even just writing about it has sent me into a mild panic. So please don't ever mention this again. Goodnight.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Good:

Definitely bacon cooking, especially if you've just woken up and are still lying in bed.

Apples baking. Also hot apple cider with cinnamon and cloves.

Bread baking.

Garlic roasting.

Coffee brewing

Basil's a good call.

Bad:

Whatever the hell my neighbors across the hall make about three times a week. Vile, vile and nasty. Smells like rotting fish plus farts plus rancid lard or something. Smells even worse than that. I don't know how to describe it. It smells like pure evil. I have to breathe through my mouth while I'm letting myself into my apartment.

Burnt cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.) is pretty bad, too.

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likes:

the smell of freshly-husked corn. so green!

fresh-picked apples at a stand

bbq(specifically, the smell of bricquets floating through the neighbourhood)

toast

cotton candy

oranges,lemon, lime grapefruit - all citrus

the scent of a perfect pear

hot chocolate with mini marshmallows

dislikes:

burnt microwave popcorn

unburnt microwave popcorn :laugh:

cloves

burnt coffee

black licorice

'pork cracklings'/pork rinds

peanut butter sandwich

'eau de mcdonalds' from a block away on the street :shock:


the tall drink of water...

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Hi

Love the smell of almost anything baking. Roast chicken, anything with basil, garlic is also good.

My least favorite thing to smell is ketchup on a fried egg. My mother used to eat this and I would almost lose my breakfast if I smelled it. Oh and the smell of whatever spices she put into make chili sauce.

Sandra

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Bad:

Whatever the hell my neighbors across the hall make about three times a week. Vile, vile and nasty. Smells like rotting fish plus farts plus rancid lard or something. Smells even worse than that. I don't know how to describe it. It smells like pure evil. I have to breathe through my mouth while I'm letting myself into my apartment.

Their relatives must be my neighbors! Every night it smells awful. Some nights it smells like fried diapers. :blink: Other nights it smells like what would happen if you lit one of those nasty supermarket fish counters on fire. :hmmm:

Other awful food smells (to me anyway) are:

liver cooking

that stale fast food greasy odor

kim chee (looks good, but I can't get past the smell)

rotten potatoes

food smells I love:

bacon

country ham frying

bread baking

something cinnamony baking

coffee brewing--I love going into coffee houses just to smell (I buy, of course)

the smell of a grill outside--especially when you can smell the steak on it :wub:

barbeque :wub::wub:

fresh cotton candy


it just makes me want to sit down and eat a bag of sugar chased down by a bag of flour.

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Every morning (or pretty much every morning) for 15 years I started my day by beginning a batch of beer. For you that don't get the process, here is how it works_

You get a bunch of hot water. You take a bunch of malted barley (the seed of the barley plant that has been briefly soaked in water and left in a warm environment to sprout, and then quickly dried to varying degrees of roast) and run it through a giant mill. Then you carefully mix the two at a fairly exacting temp (somewhere around 156F, but it depends on what you are trying to acheive). While this is occuring the brewer is almost always standing on top of a platform watching the grain and water mix and making sure that EVERY grain gets wet. That's where the smell part comes in.

The smell of that freshly malted barley rising up with the steam out of the bottom of the mash tun is, to me, the best smell in the world. It's like beer smell on steroids. I love it.

Nowadays I am back home working at a different type of job that allows me to have a life (although I seem to be proscribed from having large amounts of money as I did as a Beer God) and part of that life is that, on nice mornings, I ride my bike to work down the Tammany Trace, a rails to trails project that conveniently runs directly by my house and the other end comes out about three blocks from my job. Well, the trace rund right behind the first brewery that I ever worked on and lots of mornings, long before I get behind the place, I can smell some brewer starting his day and it still makes me happy. I love that smell.

But make no mistake. Almost every other smell involved with commercial brewing is not so pleasant, no matter the size of the brewery. Oy! That grain that I was referring to earlier? Well, after 24 hours sitting around inside of some trailer, gives off the most God Awful odor that you have ever smelled. And spilled beer and spent yeast all over the place. Ugggh.

I also love to stick my nose in a bag of coffee just after it has been opened. In New Orleans, commuters who regularly cross the I-10 from the east in the morning on the way to work are often treated to the smell of roasting coffee as the slowly crawl across the high rise bridge in NO East.Once of the largest coffee roasters in the world is almost directly under the bridge, which crosses the Industrial Canal (think local canal with exits to the Gulf and the River).

And then there is the way that watermelon smells.

And don't forget that great seet smell of vanilla being added to a good cake batter, it doesn't last long, but it's great while it does.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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