If we are what we eat, then I am that thing you smell

“Everybody doesn’t like rotten eggs.”

Or, so my 8-year old nephew tells me. That particular conversation might have been instigated by a dog’s fart, but it led to serious contemplation on the very nature of my expectation and understanding of food as a biological and cultural experience: If we are what we eat, then I am that thing you smell.

I’m not squeamish when it comes to smells. Certainly, this very blog is an embodiment of that essential personal truth. But it isn’t just what comes out that fascinates me, what goes in seems every bit as interesting to me.

I don’t find offal awful. If a recipe calls for garlic, I will use at least 6 cloves, or half a head, or whenever I get tired of chopping. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Philippines, where bold combinations of sweet, sour, and salty abound and vinegar was a more common condiment than ketchup. Maybe it’s because I also come from robust Irish stock, with a high tolerance for strong brews and hearty stews that waste no part of any animal.

This isn’t a food blog or a diet journal, and there is much I’m leaving unsaid about the cultural implications of  traditional cuisines from around the world being treated as ‘other’ in America – where reactions/labels range from exotic to obscene. (For related discussion, see any recent article about the new tv show, “Fresh Off the Boat” and how Chinese culture is portrayed to American audiences.)

This is not that sort of rumination. This is simply a minor reflection on some of my eating & digestion history of the past month. I like smelly food, and I cannot lie.

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Some people have trouble digesting eggs; many find them smelly no matter how they’re cooked. I tempt all sorts of fate by topping mine with kimchi. As far as fermented vegetables go, kimchi packs quite the multi-sensory punch.

 

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Yep. I usually have to be home alone to partake of tuna made with loads of fresh onions, topped with fried garlic.

 

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This is…was….liver pate, which I find rather delectable on melba toast. My husband thought it was cat food. Nope. It only smelled like it.