A Case for Good Stink

Recently I was interviewed on the BBC about a new study on the attraction of smells we consider unpleasant. The research undertaken by a group of Scottish and Czech scientists revealed that women prefer the sweat of men who had eaten garlic. I was somewhat skeptical about the study and especially the explanations, but I find nothing surprising about the appeal of so-called bad odors. Our noses are more precise and interesting than we think, and it only takes a walk through a fragrance lab to discover what kind of unpleasant materials are essential for the most beautiful of perfumes.

garlic

This topic is the subject of my Financial Times Magazine column. I explain why bad smells are important in perfumery and even take you to a special place in the lab where pungent ingredients are mixed.

“One of the paradoxes of perfumery is that to create a good smell, you need a bit of funk. A strawberry accord won’t smell convincing without a sulphurous accent. Recreating a dewy white blossom requires the same substances that are present in horse sweat. There is even a space in every perfume lab devoted to materials with strong, reeking odours, and it’s appropriately called ‘the stinky room’. Next to the roses and vanillas in a perfumer’s palette, notes reminiscent of dirty hair, musty fur, burnt toast or decaying fruit have their place of honour – costus, musks, civet, pyrazines and many other pungent ingredients. They may be used in small quantities, but they’re important enhancers, giving vibrancy, texture and spice to an otherwise conventional fragrance.” To continue, please click here.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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95 Comments

  • Sandra: I appreciate the stinky, funky side of perfume making now thanks to this article.
    I always imagined that perfume labs smelled so beautiful, boy was I wrong! December 14, 2015 at 7:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Most of the time it’s filled with a smell I call “perfume lab,” a cloud of different odors. Despite a strong ventilation system, the smell is strong. It’s not always unpleasant–and a lot of the time you don’t even notice it, but if someone has an accident with one of the “stinky room” materials, the whole floor would know. December 14, 2015 at 1:15pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I still miss the decaying peach in Femme (Rochas) before 1989.
    Femme is beautiful in the current version, but the old one was more interesting. December 14, 2015 at 7:52am Reply

    • Victoria: I also liked that aspect of Femme, because it gave it such a lush, seductive facet. The current version has a little bit too much cumin for my taste. December 14, 2015 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Lizbee: “…living things are rarely well scrubbed and sterile, and a hint of something pungent reminds us of our own humanity.”

    I love the simplicity and utter truth of this. It makes so much sense, and it’s exciting to consider all the ways this concept plays out in life, love, and perfume. 🙂 December 14, 2015 at 9:15am Reply

    • Michaela: So true! December 14, 2015 at 9:43am Reply

    • Victoria: And our noses can parse our such subtle nuances. Many smells that are considered bad tend to be layered and complex, and by same token, we like the taste of chocolate, but if you smell it, you realize that it actually smells really punchy!

      The research I mentioned offered explanations that maybe women like the smell of garlic eaters, because garlic is health food, by eating it a person “signaled” their healthy state. But since under the constraints of the study, garlic eaten was in small doses, I wondered what if moderate doses actually makes sweat smell better. December 14, 2015 at 1:24pm Reply

  • rosarita: Another great article, V! December 14, 2015 at 9:19am Reply

  • epapsiou: What no mention of kouros!!! December 14, 2015 at 9:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Not enough space, and I mentioned it not long ago. But yes, it’s a great example and an outstanding perfume. December 14, 2015 at 1:25pm Reply

      • epapsiou: I know. I know. Just giving you hard time. Lots of people think urinal smell when they smell Kouros.
        After reading the article I went over to Sephora to try Cartier Declaration. Reminds me of finger bowl (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finger_bowl) in Indian restaurant. They always have a piece of lemon in it. That combined with spice smell is what Declaration smells like.
        For some reason finger bowl are not popular in indian restaurants in US. December 14, 2015 at 1:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: I also remember being shocked when I first smelled Kouros and thinking why on earth someone would want to smell like this. But it’s another one of those things that grow on you.

          Finger bowls are a great idea, and I can imagine the scent you’re describing. I also love the smell of mukhwas, candied fennel seeds mixed with roasted, hulled coriander kernels. This would be a good perfume. December 14, 2015 at 4:27pm Reply

          • epapsiou: Actually there is. In Ahmedabad (where I spend some years) there was a rose flavoured mukhwas which my parents friends (ladies mostly) used to eat. Their mouth would smell just like Portrait of a Lady.
            When I first whiffed POAL it transported me back to those good old days December 15, 2015 at 9:14am Reply

            • Victoria: Sounds wonderful!
              POAL is missing the roasted coriander note I’m craving. I have a few rose flavored mukhwas I bought in Gujarat. Each has such a wonderful aroma and taste and they all taste differently. Unfortunately, my local Indian store doesn’t have much interesting in the mukhwas department. December 15, 2015 at 9:21am Reply

              • epapsiou: Couple of days ago I took few of my friends for dinner at an Indian place (in NY) and offered them Paan after meal. They had never had paan before. No one liked it. They said it tastes like perfume explosion in mouth.
                So then I had to taste some perfumes to see what they are saying and I must say that TF Extreme will make good Mukhwas (albeit a pricey one). December 15, 2015 at 9:47am Reply

                • Victoria: I now know better than to offer people paan without warning. One of my friends actually threw up after eating it. I got so used to eating it in India that I forgot that most non-Indians would find that flavor overly strong, violent even.
                  If TF tasted the way it smelled, I’d like something with that flavor. Not sure I’m ready to try TF or any other perfume made with denatured alcohol, though. December 15, 2015 at 9:57am Reply

                  • epapsiou: I would not recommend it either, but their scent pyramid makes an excellent recipe for a royal mukhwas December 15, 2015 at 12:42pm Reply

                    • Victoria: Many oriental perfumes would make good flavors, come to think of it. I once tasted tea inspired by Shalimar, and it was wonderful. December 15, 2015 at 3:42pm

  • Kateh: Loved it! I never thought about bad smells in this way. December 14, 2015 at 9:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you. It’s a fascinating and complex topic. December 14, 2015 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Michaela: I like the title a lot, it’s so funny.
    The whole article is really interesting. I can relate to this idea when I consider how much I love the smell of my dog. Or fish with garlic 🙂 Or a bit of cumin in perfumes. December 14, 2015 at 9:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Or cheese, bitter chocolate and various fermented foods.

      I especially like cumin in Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. Mixed with other spices, it’s less assertive, but it’s still sensual. December 14, 2015 at 1:27pm Reply

      • Michaela: I can materialize the scent of Jungle L’Elephant while I read your comment. No sweat at all, only boozy, hot spices, a memorable feeling.
        I was surprised by the subtle but essential changes in roasted cumin and coriander, and more, in their CC powder mix. Perfumers and cooks are amazing. December 15, 2015 at 4:38am Reply

        • Victoria: I went and found my bottle. Although earlier I was happy with Chanel 28 La Pausa, I suddenly had a craving for L’Elephant.

          It’s also time for me to make a new batch of the CC powder, since I’m close to running out. December 15, 2015 at 9:04am Reply

          • Michaela: Me, too 🙂 After our chat, I searched my bottle and sprayed. And.. guess what! A friend of mine (well… a specialist in Arabian perfumes, she smelled hundreds!) happened to come, she inhaled and she instantly fell for this perfume. Of course I was happy to invite her to sample. The next morning she called to say she was determined to buy a full big bottle! 🙂
            I am extremely happy because I almost never convert people to perfumes I love. And I saw her eyes 🙂 How perfumes make people happy in an instant… December 16, 2015 at 10:44am Reply

            • Victoria: You’ve made her happy, and that’s such a nice feeling. 🙂 December 16, 2015 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Eric: Eau d’Hermes is skank itself. You know what, I get many compliments on it. But I can’t wear Cologne Bigarade: it’s pungent and sharp. I prefer Eau du Sud by Goutal for my cumin fix. December 14, 2015 at 10:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Eau d’Hermes is a grandparent of Cartier Declaration, which in turn inspired Hermessence Poivre Samarcande. All three are very interesting, and yes, animalic. December 14, 2015 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Wrenaissance Art: Very interesting article. Another “good stink” is the smell of wet leaves and dirt that you find while walking n the woods or digging in the garden! December 14, 2015 at 10:15am Reply

    • Victoria: One of my favorite smells. There is also something said about the smell of wet soil and manure. December 14, 2015 at 1:30pm Reply

    • Karen (A): Wet leaves and soil is an intoxicating smell for me. Also, just looked at your art work on your web site, beautiful! December 15, 2015 at 6:43am Reply

  • Briony hey: Lovely article – it reminds me why that over-ripe going off fruity smell in Lyric makes it such a stunner. December 14, 2015 at 10:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I also get them in Jubilation, another Amouage that does animalic with panache. December 14, 2015 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Lady Dedlock: Cool article. I get my dose of funk from Kerosene, Dirty Flower Factory. Why? Because its aim isn’t photorealism, or mimicking nature with the use of synthetic, but to appeal to the ‘pervert’ in us. Or maybe scent itself is inherently ‘pervert’? Hmm, you get my drift?
    On subsequent sniffs, the whiff of petrol mixed with rose is unmistakable. (Disclaimer: this is not to give anyone ideas. Lol.) December 14, 2015 at 10:59am Reply

    • Victoria: This really sounds intriguing, making me think of that whiff of gasoline in the top of notes of Serge Lutens’s Tubereuse Criminelle. December 14, 2015 at 1:32pm Reply

  • limegreen: I frequent an artisanal cheese shop where you can sample pretty much anything. The cheesemongers like to describe some of the soft rind “ripened” cheeses (yummy) as having a “barnyard funk”! And I always think to perfume stink that can be enjoyable. Thanks for taking us behind the scenes to the stinky room, such a fun read!
    I love the opening to Tubereuse Criminelle, though it’s not as stinky as some other notes. December 14, 2015 at 11:11am Reply

    • Victoria: In perfume it’s, of course, a matter of balance, using enough of the pungent ingredients just to frame the accord or to highlight a particular facets. Or just to add a little fillip to make the whole thing more memorable.

      I love the smell of cheese shops. There is one not too far from my apartment building, and the smell changes depending on what the owner is showcasing. Last week he cut open a big wheel of parmigiano, and the whole place smell of salt, caramel and warm cows. 🙂 December 14, 2015 at 1:40pm Reply

      • Figuier: Warm cows – that’s exactly it!! I grew up next to a farm and still have a fondness for the inimitable combined smell of cows, hay and manure. And good cheese shops definitely have the same whiff. (Silage, on the other hand, doesn’t appeal at all!) December 15, 2015 at 7:11am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, I know what you mean! I spent summers in the countryside, so I’m also familiar with those smells. Silage is an odd smell. Some silages remind me of galbanum (the top notes of Chanel No 19 or Ma Griffe), but others smell just like rotten herbs. December 15, 2015 at 9:14am Reply

        • tiamaria: That hay, manure and cow smell is what I was thinking of reading this. As a child i loved to join my grandad in the cow shed when he was cleaning them out, the smell was obviously stinky but so appealing at the same time! I still love it. Silage is a different matter though. When I was younger growing up in the country there would be a few weeks at the end of the summer where it was everywhere, and horrendous smell. Thankfully now farmers around here make it in bales wrapped up so you don’t smell it at all. December 16, 2015 at 8:00am Reply

  • rainboweyes: Sounds perfectly logical to me – isn’t it why most recipes for sweet foods call for a pinch of salt and some sugar in savoury foods lets the spicy notes unfold even better? And why blue eyes go well with brown eyeshadow and green eyes with purple? I think you always need a pinch of the opposite element, whatever it is, to get the maximum effect.
    The smell of wet earth is one of my favourite scents, by the way. December 14, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I agree. Wholesome, well-scrubbed perfumes smell far too sterile and banal. Also, when people say that such and such perfume smells too synthetic is usually because it’s missing a touch of funk. Real flowers have plenty of it, to use just one example. December 14, 2015 at 1:42pm Reply

  • Hildegerd Haugen: I adore civet in perfume so this is good news. December 14, 2015 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: A quintessential funky smell in perfumery. I was wearing Etat Libre d’Orange Rien the other day and enjoying its whiff of civet. December 14, 2015 at 1:42pm Reply

      • Hildegerd Haugen: I spray some vintage Diva when I want some Civet. Lovely. December 27, 2015 at 6:44am Reply

  • iodine: Nice article, V. 🙂
    I like so much the sweaty side of cumin in fragrances that I’m beginning to read the note differently even when I catch it from other ehm…. natural sources!! December 14, 2015 at 1:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that sounds familiar. As I mentioned earlier, these kind of smells are very complex, and if you smell something enough, you start thinking about it differently. Plus, sometimes it’s fun to break down a smell into its components–a helpful tactic when stuck with an unpleasant smell and not being able to do anything about it. December 14, 2015 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Joy: Wonderful article, Victoria. It caused me to think about some of my favorite smells that have to do with decay and fermentation. I love entering a winery especially during harvest season when the crush has occurred and the grapes begin to ferment. I so enjoyed EL’s Azuree and Aramis because they reminded me of horse sweat. I also really enjoy walking into horse barns.

    The fragrance of a hike in the forest in fall with the pine, fir, and cedar above and soil and leaf rot underfoot is my favorite. Visiting the island of Kauai is a prime example with the almost overwhelming fragrance of tropical flowers melded with the fragrance of dead critters and fallen fruit. Due to heat and humidity organic material decays rapidly. It is a weird, fascinating scent.

    Thank you for such a thought provoking article. December 14, 2015 at 2:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: My grandfather made wine, and I also remember the smell of fermenting grapes. I didn’t think of it for a long time, but your winery mention reminded me of it.

      Have you tried Frapin perfumes? They are supposed to be inspired by the wine and cognac related aromas. December 14, 2015 at 4:30pm Reply

      • Louise: I like Frapin 1270. I’ve heard a lot about this line so I started with an order of samples. 1270 is my favourite one. December 15, 2015 at 3:57am Reply

        • Victoria: I tried it a long time ago, and I should revisit it. December 15, 2015 at 9:01am Reply

  • Alicia: I don’t mind at all a bit of funk in my fragrances, as long as it is so well balanced that it does not dominate them. For instance I love Diorissimo, and suspect that this spring in a bottle wouldn’t be the same without its drop of civet. Instead, although I know that Joy is a masterpiece I never enjoyed its civet, I wonder why… It seems to me that the animalic notes give depth to fragrances, and that I love. Instead the out of the shower, very soapy (and also too powdery smells) do not attract me in the least. There is only one note, that if dominant I can’t abide: pine. I suspect that such is the cause why I was not impressed by SL Fille en Aiguilles, and gave my just opened bottle to a friend of mine. Peculiar, because I have a pine wood in the back of my house, and enjoy very much to walk through it particularly in the Fall, when the squirrels are busy in search of pinecones. All the indolic flowers are my delight, but I find unpleasant a very powdery heliotrope, unless it is mixed with other florals, and becomes a subtle note. It seems to me that it is what I perceive as an excess of powder. For instance Givenchy Dahlia Noire is unbearable to my nose, instead I love L’Heure Bleue and Kenzo Flower, although they are powdery, but not overwhelmingly so. Victoria, thank you for this post. It made me think of my likes and dislikes, and it seems that I don’t mind at all “bad” smells, but dislike some “good” ones. December 14, 2015 at 5:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Heliotrope accord in perfumery tends to be powdery, especially the classical type. It’s essentially like stepping into a cloud of talcum powder. I like powdery perfumes myself, but I don’t like the combination of powdery and sugary. Or powdery and fruity. December 15, 2015 at 8:54am Reply

  • Joy: Frapin, another path for me to travel!! December 14, 2015 at 6:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: There are now many perfumes in the collection, and I haven’t tried them all, bu Caravelle Epicee is delicious. December 15, 2015 at 8:52am Reply

  • Nemo: This is why I love Rose Poivree so much! It is also why I don’t wear it in public that much 🙂 Different people seem to notice that bit of funk to different levels. December 14, 2015 at 9:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Rose Poivree is overwhelmingly animalic to me, but it definitely has a passionate following. December 15, 2015 at 8:55am Reply

  • Tiffanie: The tension between waht is appealing and what stinks is delightful, as is the article. 🙂

    I adore Songes. I have a purse spray which I have used as an air freshener when a room smells a bit too “human”. It works!

    I vividly remember my first sniff of Champagne/Yvresse in a department store. The scent was brand new and was aggressively spritzed on cards and on brave shoppers. I thought “there is over-ripe and rotting fruit somewhere nearby!” and I loved the smell. Sadly I did not like the scent on my skin. I should try it again as I am sure the formula has changed and so have my own skin, nose, and fragrance perceptions. December 14, 2015 at 11:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Tiffanie.

      Yvresse is such a strange but intriguing perfume. I can definitely see someone disliking it intensely, since it’s raunchy and over-ripe. The formula has changed, but I now find it too tart. It was never one of my top most worn perfumes, but I liked its eccentricity. December 15, 2015 at 8:59am Reply

  • Louise: I’m learning to appreciate anything too animalic but it’s a slow road. I tried Miller Harris L’Air de Rien and I couldn’t wash it fast enough. It smelt of dirty shoes to me. December 15, 2015 at 3:52am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re not alone in your opinion of L’Air de Rien. I heard someone people describe it as the smell of dirty laundry. 🙂 December 15, 2015 at 9:00am Reply

      • maja: Wonderful article, Victoria! Thinking about it now, I see a pattern in my funk-wise preferences. I seem to love earthy smells – carroty, rooty, wet soil. And I am having a really tough time with cumin in perfumes and that is rather strange since I adore cumin in food.

        L’Air de Rien is a strange animal, I agree. It’s so compelling yet repulsive at the same time. December 15, 2015 at 4:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, it’s one thing to taste the animalic-sweaty hit of cumin and quite another carry it on one’s skin for a whole day. But even the way cumin behaves in food is fascinating. How could have guessed that something this pungent would be a great complement to fish–and in fact it neutralizes the fishy smell?

          I have days when I wear L’Air de Rien and think that it’s the most wonderful thing and others when it smells just raunchy. It can be an oddly comforting fragrance, though. December 16, 2015 at 3:33am Reply

          • Karen (A): Too funny, since I am not familiar with L’air de Rien, my mind was “reading” with L’air du Temps and was quite puzzled about this discussion. Looked up L’air de Rien and see it is not *quite* the same fragrance……. December 16, 2015 at 7:27am Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, that would be confusing. 🙂 L’Air du Temple is such a graceful, elegant perfume. If any pungency is there, it’s well-concealed. December 16, 2015 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Aurora: It’s such an intriguing article, Victoria. Thank you for explaining the mystery of these ‘stinky’ materials so well.
    There is one that appeals to me very much, asafoetida as used the old Ma Griffe and the original Ivoire, according to Fragrantica. It’s supposed to smell like leeks and onions and it’s such a delightful surprise that it is contained in these memorable perfumes and I am under the impression that it’s this ingredient which perhaps make them so memorable. December 15, 2015 at 6:44am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s such a vast topic, too, since there are many awful smelling materials that are absolutely essential for perfumery.

      It looks like Fragrantica mixed up their ferulas. Cabochard, Ma Griffe, Ivoire and others are using is a different type of ferula, galbanum or ferula galbaniflua. In the same genus as ferula asafoetida, but it smells differently, like sliced green peppers and bitter greens to the power of 10. From what I know, ferula assafoetida isn’t used in perfumery, only in flavors. Very rarely garlicky notes are used in some berry accords, but even then in minuscules doses (and yes, all of them are relegated to the stinky room).

      I love asafoetida in food, and I use it in Indian cooking. It smells like rotten onion, and when it’s fresh, it’s so pungent it makes my eyes tear. On the other hand, once cooked, it tastes like leek, mild and sweet. December 15, 2015 at 9:13am Reply

      • Aurora: Thanks for correcting Fragrantica Victoria, I would never have known! Oh yes, bitter green pepper makes much more sense for Ma Griffe and Ivoire. I don’t think bitter is very popular these days but it was valued back then. Mind you, I also have the new Ivoire (your excellent review of it) which I like a great deal too, it’s vastly different, that’s all, I just enjoy using the old and the new depending on my mood. December 16, 2015 at 5:53am Reply

        • Victoria: A couple of weeks ago a friend emailed me asking the same question about asafoetida and Ma Griffe, which he spotted via Fragrantica, so I did a quick search. All of those ferulas are confusing, and frankly, even galbanum is pungent smelling. Not quite a candidate for the stinky room but close enough. 🙂

          I agree with you on Ivoire. They’re not same perfumes, but both are beautiful. December 16, 2015 at 2:10pm Reply

  • Neva: Very informative article. Although I know that animal notes such as civet give depth to perfume, I wish I could try the “before-after” to learn to appreciate it fully.
    A perfume is much more than the sum of its parts. Once, a long time ago, I bought a set of oils of which Truth by CK was made and I had the idea to mix it at home to get close to the real Truth…hahahaha, mission impossible of course! Some oils smelled nice, but at others I was wondering: is it really a part of this lovely formulation? December 15, 2015 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, it would be so hard to put together a perfume, even if you knew what components it has! It’s all in precise balance and quantities, and it’s so difficult to figure it out. My first year perfumery training was essentially that, and I have to say that I didn’t find exercise very enjoyable. It was much more interesting to create accords from my own imagination. December 15, 2015 at 9:16am Reply

  • spe: Thank you for the excellent article. I dislike the smell of garlic and cumin in sweat and on breath. I adore Caleche and need to pay more attention to the raunch notes in it when I wear it next. Declaration makes me recoil. On the other hand, I love Kenzo L’Elephant. I can’t make sense out of this! December 15, 2015 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad that you liked it.
      Cumin in L’Elephant is much more masked, while in Declaration it’s unvarnished. On the other hand, Caleche has richness and musky notes, but there is enough to balance everything out. December 15, 2015 at 3:40pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I instantly thought of 2 things reading this:

    Luca’s quote in one of his witty reviews in The Guide ( can’t remember which one) where someone apparently asked for “un peu de m*rde’ after smelling too many pretty florals.

    The second one was Manoumalia.

    And I’ve just thought of a 3rd.
    Münster cheese.

    And I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this! December 15, 2015 at 3:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Munster cheese is an experience. Actually, many northern Belgian cheese are of the same ilk, and I went through a period of trying them all. And they sure have potent smells. As tasty as the cheese is, Munster flavored yogurt, butter or jam aren’t that great. December 15, 2015 at 3:44pm Reply

      • Victoria: Oh, and if a cheesemonger says, “it’s interesting,” it’s a good signal that you’re about to come home with something marginally inedible. December 15, 2015 at 3:44pm Reply

        • maja: Hahaha, exactly. Last summer we bought some aged goat cheese from a local shepherd – I had to give it away because it was really, really zoologically stinky. 🙂 December 15, 2015 at 4:41pm Reply

          • Victoria: The “interesting” one had a sweetish rotten taste and little bits of some herb on the crust that my imagination painted as worms. Once that mental image formed, I couldn’t eat the cheese. I had to throw it away. December 16, 2015 at 3:36am Reply

            • maja: Cheese with worms is one of Sardinian specialties. My husband calls it “the walking cheese”. I’ve never been able to take a look at it let alone eat it. December 16, 2015 at 4:23am Reply

              • maja: http://m.mentalfloss.com/article.php?id=20523

                🙂 December 16, 2015 at 4:26am Reply

                • Victoria: Hmmm, yes, I have lots of mental work to do before I can try that one. Considering how much I shuddered this morning as I threw away a bag of old pine nuts teeming with worms, I may not be ready for that cheese. 🙂 December 16, 2015 at 4:44am Reply

                • Austenfan: I’m afraid to even open the link! December 16, 2015 at 4:19pm Reply

              • Victoria: I’m determined to try that one, though. At least, one in my life (especially since I understand that it’s on the verge of being banned.) Since the Belgian cheese I bought wasn’t historical–and even had no worms, just looked like it did–I didn’t feel the need to force myself too much. 🙂 December 16, 2015 at 4:29am Reply

                • maja: It is already illegal but that only means you can’t buy it in the supermarket. Most shepherds, however, make their own cheese and some of the wheels are maggot loaded ones so it’s quite available everywhere. I am always for a stinky, aged pecorino but this is too much for me. 🙂 December 16, 2015 at 5:12am Reply

                  • Victoria: Alright, as I plan my visit, I will steel myself for the experience. On the other hand, I need no overcome any barriers, or close my eyes, with good, old pecorino. It’s one of my favorite cheeses. 🙂

                    I also love nduja. No other spicy sausage competes with this one. December 16, 2015 at 5:21am Reply

                    • Cornelia Blimber: My grandfather loved cheese with worms. Not in Italy, but in the south of the Netherlands, in Limburg. Our famous ”stjinkkees” (stinkkaas), now available in supermarkets as ”Limburgse Kaas”. But that’s a fake. December 16, 2015 at 7:11am

                    • Victoria: I can’t imagine our supermarkets selling the real thing, with maggots intact. 🙂 Did you taste it too? December 16, 2015 at 2:11pm

      • Austenfan: I actually prefer my Munster warm. I love it on oven potatoes.
        I wouldn’t even want it near yoghurt, jam or butter. December 16, 2015 at 4:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve never had it warm, but I must try it. A cheesemonger recommended eating it sprinkled with cumin seeds, and I liked that combination. December 16, 2015 at 4:18pm Reply

          • Austenfan: And all those stories of maggots made my stomach turn. Yikes!

            Heating Munster softens the naughty bits, and makes it more accessible.
            Cumin and cheese is a classic in my country, and I can see it working with Munster as well. December 17, 2015 at 5:35am Reply

            • Victoria: I didn’t think of that, but now I will have to try it for sure. Cumin matched surprisingly well. December 17, 2015 at 8:37am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, I did. Awful! December 16, 2015 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Aurora: Oh sorry, posted in the wrong place! December 17, 2015 at 6:29am Reply

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