Today we were in a supermarket and I noticed a display for an air freshener. I didn’t bother trying to translate the words since the pictures told the whole story. The product’s maker wanted you to know that their freshener would handle the strongest odors from dogs, shoes, and since this is France, cheese. Yep, a big ‘ole hunk of stinky cheese was right up there as a common household smell.
Years ago on one of our first trips over here we went out to a dinner with friends that turned into a real learning experience for us. As you might expect, bread is present at every meal but we found that bread plates seldom make it. You simply use the tabletop as your plate. That was easy enough to adapt to but then our main courses arrived and Bill and I looked quizzically at each other. Why had we not earlier noticed that horrid smell of vomit? Or had I stepped in something on the way into the restaurant? I actually did look at the floor under the table and then at the bottom of my shoes. Our bemused dining companion explained that he had ordered a warm cheese salad that was now filling the air around our table with a distinctive smell.
If you watch the PBS travel program hosted by Rick Steves you may have seen an episode where he follows the owner of a small hotel on her daily journey around a few markets in Paris. At a cheese stall she stops to select a few different samples for that evening’s meal and comments that one particular wedge smells like the feet of angels. We had a similar Parisian experience when several of us rented an apartment together that had a toilet room right next to the kitchen. A classic meal here is a raclette that uses a sometimes strong-smelling cheese melted over vegetables and/or meat. It makes for quite a tasty dinner but any leftovers should be tightly covered when stored in the refrigerator. Poor unsuspecting Kate opened the fridge door the next morning and was overcome by the odor and momentarily confused if she had actually opened the bathroom door. I wonder what devil’s feet smell like?