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  Non-Vegetarian Food: Spice smell
Name: Anna
Date: 2006-09-22
Hi all,

I have a problem. I live in US. I never had this feeling in India. After coming here i feel my house, me and dresses smells of spices. I feel bad to go near anyone or invite any one home. Any advice appreciated.


Name: Anna
Subject:  Thanks All
Date: 2006-10-04
Hi all thanks for the reply. I will try the tips given by u all and let u know how it went. Kevin thanks a lot for replying it was so interesting reading ur reply. I really appreciate it. Thanks bye
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Name: Kevin
Subject:  spice smells
Date: 2006-09-25
hi anna,

well, my first thought is that kitchens of every different culture smell differently. even within the same country, too. european kitchens smell quite different from u.s. or indian kitchens...cabbages cooking in some countries, the smell of sausages, some are high in garlic, some never use it, some smell strongly of coffee, etc.

then you get to americans where people have come from every continent except antarctica. in the very old days the kitchens were in a building behind the house on the east coast & in spanish colonies (california to texas) they were done in a covered area of the courtyard outside. maybe this is where the habit or practice to not smell the food came from.

i do know that many europeans complain about u.s. supermarkets in that you cannot smell the food...things are so tightly wrapped up that you do not smell the cheese, fish, meat, dairy, etc. they miss this when they shop and are also a bit suspect about buying something they cannot smell if it is the smell they like or not.

in like manner, americans have difficulties when smelling the aromas at the markets. when i was a kid we lived in asia for 2 years. it took my mom a while to get used to the smells in the markets there, as she had never encountered that before. later we lived in europe for 3 years and had cooking and market smells we had never encountered before, too.

now, has anyone mentioned smelling spices on you or in your home? or have you grown accustomed to not smelling them when you are out of the house and then smelling them when you come home? if no one has mentioned it, i wouldn't worry about it too much.

also, some spices tend to come out of the pores, too, after eating. this is most prevalent with garlic and cumin. there is an armenian meat called basturma that is rubbed with lots of cumin and garlic that can be smelled for days after eating. (if you eat more than a small slice of it). reducing (not eliminating, just reducing) the amount of these used in cooking can reduce the amount that you sweat out later.

o, americans (& maybe everybody else, too) often use white vinegar to clean the kitchens with.... floor, counter, stove, oven, etc. they sell it in gallon jugs at the supermarkets and it is relatively cheap. you can also use it for cooking/salads and i often put a half cup in the dishwasher, too. it tends to cut through any oils that accumulate, etc. the oils on stovetops, countertops, etc, tend to absorb the spice smells.

another thing i do for my indian spices is keep them in 1 or 2 zip lock style baggies and then inside of a glass jar with a tight lid, and then in a drawer. this not only helps to keep the smell from permeating the kitchen, but helps to keep the taste lasting fresher, too, i think. (if you had enough space available, you could also keep them in the refrigerator or freezer, i guess) i especially keep hing (asafoetida) in a zip lock bag. tho i like the taste in food, i do not always want to smell it when i am not eating something with it.

i guess i should also mention that many americans LIKE the smell of indian spices. it is not offensive to me or anyone i know to smell them in an indian kitchen or home...actually, it rather whets the appetite and i might be more offended if not offered anything to nibble on when smelling them.

that leads in to one other way of 'masking' the aromas. an old american way of making a kitchen smell nice and getting rid of previous dinner smells was to put a saucepan on the stove with water, cloves, cinnamon sticks, slices of ginger, allspice berries (split), orange rinds, lemon rinds, etc. then you put it on a low simmer and let it do it's work. it smells wonderful. in the fall you can do this with apple cider or apple juice with these 'mulling spices', then drink the cider or apple juice hot afterward. in the winter it is common to use red wine as the base. both of these are nice when company comes over to the house. (the wine should be sweetened some so the spice flavors can be tasted better).

another masking 'secret' from long ago in the usa is putting an onion in the oven and putting the oven on low. the onion cooks and makes it smell like food is cooking. i don't know if it masks spice flavors, tho.

when i was growing up, many americans used to hate cooking fish in the house because it would make the house smell like fish for 2 or 3 days. maybe they were cooking in hot oil, not sure. it doesn't seem to be as much of a problem here anymore. deep frying and using very hot oil does tend to make odors linger, in my opinion. there is less deep frying and using extremely hot oil at home these days as opposed to long ago in the usa, so maybe that is why the fish smell doesn't linger as long anymore here.

do you have an outdoor area where you can have a gas barbecue or tandoor? (i have both gas & charcoal, but find i use the gas much more often because i can turn it on when i want and turn it off when i want and not waste any charcoal or have to add more because i did not start with enough). i often use the gas bbq like an oven when i don't want certain spice smells to linger or hang in the house. i sometimes get phone calls from neighbors asking if they can come over for dinner, too!

baking soda....this absorbs odors. many americans keep an open box of this (tear off the top completely) in the refrigerator. i do not do this. also, many sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, work it in for a while, then vaccuum it up. i have done this often. carpeting collects odors and the baking soda helps to refresh them. don't mix with the vinegar unless you want to make a volcano for a school science experiment. baking soda, after 3 months or so in the fridge, is good to put down the kitchen drain to refresh that area, too.

i think my last bit of advice is to get to know an american lady...maybe an older woman who is a neighbor, workmate, etc, & ask her to guide you through these type things in the usa. this can be so useful, in that she could recommend certain products that she always used, certain ones that she thought were useless, etc. also, tell her you want her to be truthful, even if harshly truthful, and then invite her over to smell the spice smell in your kitchen/house. she may say 'now THAT smells like a home' or she may say that it is a bit 'over the top'. if it is 'over the top', then she may have some ideas for reducing the smells that i have not mentioned. i always found when visiting or moving to a new country, it is always helpful to have someone 'show you the ropes' to introduce you to foods, products, customs, etc. if you don't find someone nearby, you might check with the local school system, community college, etc.

best of luck to you, anna. your message was so short and my answer was so long. i apologize for that, but hope that some of these ideas will help. and i guess again i will say that i do like an indian kitchen that smells like indian spices. and i can understand not wanting to smell it all the time, too.

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Name: TRS
Subject:  Smells
Date: 2006-09-25
Opening all the windows is a good idea, I also use mild agarbatties after i am done cooking.
I have recently bought an oil diffuser that works much better than scented candles. Scented oils are available at your local walmart or drugstore. Hope this helps! this is such a big problem here some reason, I have also cut down on the usage of onions and garlic.

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Name: xy
Subject:  yes console
Date: 2006-09-24
console have wrote wat i thought.i will close the kitchen door while cooking n switch on exhaust fan.still it smells.avoid eating in bedrooms...if possible n the kitchen iz big can eat there...avoidkeeping food stuffs open in table for long....pour some lemon to fish b4 frying..thiz avoid to much smell..immediately after u eat wipe the table n kitchen with some dettol or any other fragrance liquid
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Name: console
Subject:  hai!
Date: 2006-09-23
This is a very common problem in US.when you are cooking always use the exhaust fan.keep all the doors of your bedroom and closet closed.if you are living in a warm region you can have your kitchen windows open while your can light a scented candle or spray on room can have the electric air freshners like airwick...there are so many brands in the market,you can keep them in your bedrooms and closets where you keep your clothes.this is what iam doing till now,if you get any more suggestion please inform me too.
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