A fish never lies about when the devil has claimed its flesh.
I love cooking for reasons other than just making food. I love that it’s piqued my interest into studying and learning about the world and chemistry of food. I often find myself realizing that it inevitably revolves around managing rot to varying degrees or controlling it and driving it in some direction. Though it sounds lowly, it’s quite often the opposite. It’s a divine art.
There are always some active processes at hand, like acidification, or beneficial molds on aging salamis and cheeses. I quite often try to imagine the first person who deigned to ingest a chunk of cheese veined with blue streaks, thick with ammonia notes and smelling like a cows ass. I wonder the circumstances, whether it was a dare or necessity. Whatever the case, theirs is a name destined to anonymity for the ages, though the gift endures.
As a result, there are certain things we learn we can do that tantalize the soul. Tastes, smells, flavors and textures we somehow manage to overcome that bring us pleasure in ways that other things don’t quite and never will.
There’s always seemingly, some karmic payback. Actually, it’s not karma at all, though one might believe it could be, as a result of studying various food science texts. That’s at least what I thought when discovered just how absolutely twisted and vile the human body can be to the soul it houses. I learned of Trimethylaminuria, also known as fish odor syndrome. It would probably be great if you had an affinity, or the desire, to attract a large following of gulls. Otherwise, I’m thinking it has few merits and may limit your circle of friends unless you live on Facebook, where you never actually meet anyone in person. Or maybe as a fish monger. Like many things in life, it’s not something you choose so much as it chooses you.
I’ve also read, more than I ever wanted to, about the phenomenon known simply as ‘asparagus pee’. Many people notice that after ingesting said vegetable, even in small quantities, their urine has a distinct and amazing odor. There’s a chemical reason for it, of course, the metabolization of asparagus produces a compound known as Methyl Mercaptan. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect is that some people don’t notice the unique scent it creates. Someone, somewhere, conducted a study which proved that everyone produces stinky ‘asparagus pee’ when they’ve eaten it. It’s just that some people can’t smell it. The test consisted of cycling numerous random samples of stinky asparagus pee under many peoples noses. Most could smell it in all, some couldn’t in any.
It’s part of the fascinating aspect of science to me; as intriguing as all of that is, I can’t quite imagine what goes on in the mind of anyone intent on studying urine, or the scents that it may contain. Or whether the scent(s) of the urine are a property of the urine, or of the people smelling the urine. A strange epistemological question . It seems sort of difficult to explain the intrigue behind, let alone the conduct of studies and the subsequent publishing of the results found. Yet somehow, someone has. They’ve likely made a life’s work of it all. I should always remember that whenever I feel slightly bad about sitting idly and pondering random thoughts of my own; I have never sunk quite so low in my own often shallow endeavors.
As is so often the case, I have no point to any of this, other than I’ve a glass of 12 year old single malt Scotch with a wicked and lovely peat scent. I wonder if it will behave like raw garlic and exude from my pores for the next day or two – there’s a part of me that hopes so – there’s something I love about smelling of all the things I consume, having my own personal scent. I love the smell of fermentation, garlic, onions, blood, scotch, smoke… It’s a lovely combination that lulls me to sleep and leaves me content when I can smell any or all of the above on my fingers or my shirt or hair…