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Jun 8, 2012 10:10 AM

Are you a Butterstinker?

A piece ran on NPR recently discussing a novel in which a 19th-century Japanese teenager makes his way to America. The author, Margi Preus, says that one of the Japanese's terms for Westerners was "butter stinker," because Westerners ate a lot of butter and the Japanese thought that that diet made them smell bad.

Very interesting. I had never heard of that term before.

The piece continues:
"Freedom was a foreign feeling to a boy who had grown up in a society where life was so carefully proscribed. 'They had to live in certain kinds of houses,' Preus says. 'They could only eat certain kinds of foods, and even as children they could only play with certain kinds of toys depending upon what their status was in life.'"

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  1. I hope not but my butter does tend to stink even tho I don't keep much of anything in my fridge besides beverages, condiments, cheese, eggs and a few (non rotting) fruits and vegetables. It's a bummer for when I go to bake or make grilled cheese.

    1. When I was a vegetarian I definitely could smell meat on meat-eaters, and it wasn't pleasant.

      2 Replies
      1. re: LulusMom

        A friend of mine moved here many many years ago and said the same thing - Americans in general stank of meat

        1. re: suzigirl

          Meat eaters disbelieve this, I've found. And they get really offended. Sorry meat eaters!

      2. I had heard that, but I thought it had to do with eating dairy products in general. I do notice that people who drink a lot of milk have bad-smelling breath. Maybe some people are more sensitive to the smell than others? I can imagine that in a culture where people don't eat much dairy, a dairy eater would seem stinky.

        My husband used to travel to India for business and he said the first few days, he thought everyone stank (cumin, BO, and fenugreek) but that after a while he got used to it. I imagine the reverse was true as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Isolda

          My daughter's school visits a dairy farm every year. Smelling what the cows eat makes me understand 100% why I don't like milk (I do love cheese though) because I think milk tastes of whatever it is they call that absolutely rank smelling stuff.

          My husband's first wife was Indian. I love Indian food. I asked if she ever had a different smell from north Americans and he swears up and down she didn't. Go figure. To me, as much as I love cumin, it definitely has a funky and wonderfully musky smell.

        2. Here's something that may also add to the potential smellability of butter stinkers:

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