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Favorite Food Smells?

Mine include:

- The scent of a roasting chicken coated in olive oil and slowly sweetening garlic
- Lemon and white wine sauce
- Brown sugar cookies baking in the oven
- Freshly fried onion rings
- Farmer's market tomatoes that have a perfume no ordinary grocery store tomato could provide

What are yours?

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  1. So with you on all of these, especially the chicken and tomatoes.

    I love:

    - Grapefruit. I'm crazy for the stuff!
    - Vanilla bean anything
    - Coq au vin (I converted a poultry hater with the scent of it alone!)
    - Homemade marinara sauce as it bubbles away on the stove
    - Mongolian beef, the spicier the better

    1. Probably at the top of my list is cinnamon...cooking on the stove or in the oven.
      Next would be garlic.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Val

        We are sniffing sisters, Val. Cinnamon rules!

        1. re: lucyis

          me too! love cinnamon above all. then vanilla, and chocolate. :)

        2. re: Val

          I'd have to second the garlic. Roasted garlic is one of my favorite scents.

          After that I'd have to head to fall and baking anything pumpkin - bread, pies, etc.

        3. Meyer lemon
          Wood-fired pizza
          Movie theater popcorn
          Red wine deglazing in a pan
          Pickles on a burger (I hate pickles but love the way they smell!)
          Indian curry

          1. Thanksgiving turkey & fixings, esp. pumpkin pie
            Sunday gravy with garlic simmering on the stove
            but hands down, #1 is bread baking in the oven! Irrestible!

            1. Baking chocolate chip cookies, bread, a long braised brisket with onions, the aroma when you first open a vacuum sealed package of coffee. adam

              1 Reply
              1. re: adamshoe

                +1, and to further elaborate, both rising yeast dough and just-baked bread. Any cooked onions or onion/garlic combo. And apples cooking.

              2. cinnamon*
                certain coffees*
                smoke from bbq
                really ripe nectarines

                *I'm not really into eating cinnamon-flavored foods, and I don't like coffee - I just like how they smell.

                1. Home made bread - freshly baked especially coming in after a cold day. Freshly sliced cucumbers - especially after coming in after a long hot, sweaty day.

                  1. I do a lot of reheating of food in the microwave. I love how fast it is and how much less energy it uses (?) than the stove (electric), but I really miss the aromas that you get when you use the stovetop instead of the microwave.

                    1. Cinnamon
                      Tomatoes on the vine, not the tomatoes but the vine
                      Fresh corn on the cob
                      Fully ripened peaches and nectarines
                      Yankee pot roast

                      1. Vanilla beans
                        Garlic soup
                        Fresh bread. There is a baker at a local farmer's market that makes the most wonderful smelling rosemary focaccia.
                        Roasted coffee beans (enjoyed the smell long before I developed a taste for it)

                        1. Frying onions with fresh ground black pepper.


                          Hot almond milk (particularly walking through the night market)

                          The smell right after your put malt vinegar and salt on freshly deep fried french fries. Preferably ones bought from a chip truck in Quebec on a balmy summer night.

                          The smell of sun warmed fresh fruit, picked at the perfect ripeness.

                          Fresh mint.

                          The smell as you peel a mandarin orange in the dead of winter.

                          Freshly brewed good coffee.


                          1. When you make a gumbo, the wave of steam that comes up out of the pot as the onion, celery, and pepper hit the hot roux.

                            The greasy wok-hei smell surrounding a good Chinese restaurant.

                            Hash browns frying.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: RealMenJulienne

                              Yes, yes, yes on the veggies hitting the roux thing! I could live on the smell of that for days. If it weren't so hot (and if my CSA had given me some peppers instead a billion zucchini and eggplants), I'd go make some gumbo right now.

                            2. Onions frying in bacon fat.

                              1. Onions on the griddle - even better with a cheesesteak cooking next to it.
                                Grilled burgers
                                Fresh baked bread
                                Mulled cider

                                1. So many that have already been mentioned upthread: coffee, garlic and onions cooking, meat on a grill, wine or beer hitting a hot pan, roasting chicken, and baked goods in the oven, soups and stews simmering on the stove, and barbequed pork.

                                  Also grated citrus rinds, nutmeg, and freshly chopped herbs. My favorite herb smells are basil, rosemary and parsley (chopped parsley smells so clean, and green, like a just-mown lawn). I also quite like the smell of toast. And some teas (though I hate tea) are very pleasant as they steep (jasmine, earl gray, and red tea).

                                  Last week, the boyfriend came home early from work, and exclaimed, "God, it smells good in here. I'm starving! Is it ready?" He came into the kitchen, and I was standing in front of a cutting board that held chopped carrots, onions and garlic. I explained that I was *planning* on cooking the mixture, but he could help himself as he pleased. He grumbled that it *smelled* like cooking, as if I had tricked him. So, I guess he would say that his favorite smell is . . . dinner.

                                  1. Garlic and lemon chopped together. Add ginger and it's danged near perfection.

                                    Raw fresh ginger. Sometimes I'll buy a little piece even if I don't need it any time soon, just for the smell.

                                    Absolutely perfect fresh ripe strawberries.

                                    1. Bacon!

                                      Toasting bread

                                      Freshly popped popcorn

                                      Pot au feu (I think I spelled that right)

                                      1. Freshly baked apple pie
                                        Freshly baked bread
                                        Roasted meat (usually leg of lamb or a roast chicken)
                                        Vanilla anything
                                        Sauteed garlic

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          x2 for the fresh baked bread (too bad I'm a celiac).
                                          hamburgers on the grill
                                          fresh tomatoes
                                          garlicky anything

                                        2. lemons
                                          pumpkin pie
                                          baking yeast bread or homemade cinnamon rolls
                                          fresh brewed coffee
                                          roasting chicken or turkey
                                          baking gingersnap cookies
                                          making candied ginger
                                          sauteed onions and garlic

                                          1. That "bakery" smell...

                                            Agree on roasting chicken
                                            Garlic or onions sizzling in a pan
                                            Freshly cut lemon

                                            1. Mushrooms & onions sauteeing in bacon grease-add a little thyme & it's even better

                                              Yeasty bread dough


                                              Spaghetti Sauce simmering on the stove-reminds me of growing up

                                              1. ...Freshly cut up watermelon
                                                ...The smell on your fingers after you've finished cutting up tomatoes or strawberries
                                                ... Hot, homemade tapioca pudding
                                                ...For some reason the smell of Cadbury Mini Eggs makes me almost faint with pleasure; I don't really like the chocolate but I'll sit around huffing one of these packs like a glue fiend
                                                ...Microwave popcorn [again, don't really love to eat the stuff, but like the smell]
                                                ...Cut up limes
                                                ...Of course the aforementioned coffee brewing, bacon and onions frying, & freshly baked bread

                                                1. summer ripe fresh peaches, nectarines, plums, tomatoes
                                                  fried potatoes
                                                  sauteed or roasted garlic
                                                  fresh sweet baguettes
                                                  black truffles
                                                  vanilla bean
                                                  buttery scrambled eggs
                                                  tortillas charred over a gas flame
                                                  any runny, pungent cheese
                                                  lays bbq potato chips
                                                  (This sounds like my perfect last meal request!)

                                                  1. yeah almost everything already mentioned, save for anything that's sweet. (i don't like 99% of things sweet and their smells.)


                                                    smell of Vietnamese, Thai and Korean restaurants
                                                    beers and wines
                                                    smoked flaky salt, malt, meats etc. actually, just about everything smoky that's not tabacco.
                                                    freshly baked breads
                                                    fresh herbs
                                                    cherry tomato vines

                                                    1. Beef Stew
                                                      Pot Roast
                                                      Spaghetti Sauce
                                                      Turkey & Stuffing
                                                      Celery & Onions (for the stuffing)

                                                      1. Freshly torn basil.
                                                        Garlic fried in olive oil.
                                                        Popping mustard seeds.
                                                        Sesame oil.
                                                        Bubbling strawberry jam about to go into the jar (have jam on the brain today!)
                                                        Fresh curry leaf.
                                                        Wood smoke, usually on my clothes from having cooked something over a campfire.

                                                        1. Ripe quince
                                                          fresh bread

                                                          1. - Basil! Iit's like perfume to me.
                                                            - Garlic
                                                            - Freshly brewed coffee
                                                            - Roasted turkey - unleashes the memories of Thanksgivings past

                                                            1. Veal Pizzaiola ... is tops on this list.
                                                              Garlic knots
                                                              Hot Apple Cider with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves
                                                              Curried lamb, goat, beef, chicken, or pork
                                                              Herb roasted chicken

                                                                1. The aroma when you walk into a steakhouse that cooks prime dry aged beef is without equal. It merely hints at the pleasures to come. Prime example: Keen's Chophouse in the garment district in NYC

                                                                  1. Mine are pretty standard:

                                                                    lime zest
                                                                    perfectly aged Nebbiolo

                                                                    1. Roasting Chicken with Onion and Fennel
                                                                      things with bay leaf
                                                                      baked goods like cookies, gingerbread, most things with vanilla and cinnamon
                                                                      Sauteed onions and garlic

                                                                      1. Fish & seafood in all forms except canned tuna (gag); call me un-American. I love the smell of fish frying, even the smell in the kitchen an hour after; the aroma of steaming clams is heavenly, lobster too; the smell smoking mackerel or scallops on my Brinkman; fresh caught planked salmon or hake on an open fire; steaming moules marinere; and the subtle sweet smell of sashimi.
                                                                        Just for the halibut,

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                          A plus one on yours, Passa, especially on the canned tuna - the poor tunas, what did they ever do to mankind to deserve such a dire fate when they are so much tastier raw or seared?

                                                                        2. A smell I miss from the sidewalks of NYC:

                                                                          honey - or is it caramel? - being heated in a pan to be cooked with cashews or other nuts from the "honey roasted nuts" vendors

                                                                          This is another one of those "smells a lot better than it tastes" smells.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: racer x

                                                                            Chestnuts roasting from NYC sidewalk vendors in the winter; the smell reminds me of Xmas.

                                                                            1. Fresh mint. Cardamom seeds being crushed in a mortar. Ditto for cloves. Garlic fried in butter. The combination of balsamic vinegar and melted butter (cheater's beurre blanc), the smell of really peppery arugula being washed.

                                                                              1. So many, so many. My favorite, if I had to pick, is braising stuffed cabbage.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                  Mona or cooking Kapusta (saurkraut).

                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                    Pork and sauerkraut in the crock pot is heavenly.

                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                      Amen! But I have never used a crock pot.
                                                                                      A Cooking Luddite

                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                        They were a popular wedding gift when we got married (in the Stone Age) - I returned several and my mom glommed on to the one remaining. Never saw the use of them either.

                                                                                2. Bread, cookies, cakes, cobblers, etc. baking in the oven. Nothing like it! My second favorite would be turkey baking on Thanksgiving Day.

                                                                                  1. Mine echo others'...as this gets longer I think I'll do a search to see what the most common answer is!

                                                                                    Onions browning in the pan
                                                                                    Turkey or chicken roasting in the oven
                                                                                    Bread baking
                                                                                    Kabobs from a street cart
                                                                                    Roasted nuts from a street cart
                                                                                    Fresh truffles

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                      oooh. i forgot about freshly-roasted nuts! yesss, that's a nice smell -- warm cinnamon, and that nutty, buttery scent. and truffles... shaved over fresh tagliatelle.

                                                                                      1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                        Roasting green chiles in the huge tumblers out in front of the supermarkets at harvest time in New Mexico!!!!!

                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                          Oh, for crying out loud, how did I not think of that? Good one. (And in Colorado too.)

                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                            I can't frickin' wait. Three weeks from right now, we'll be landing in The Duke City!

                                                                                      2. roast chicken
                                                                                        coffee- especially diner coffee (just the smell, not the taste)
                                                                                        oatmeal cookies baking
                                                                                        tree-ripened peaches