HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Smelling your food before you take a bite

I don't know why, but It creeps me out if someone smells their food on their fork before putting it in their mouth. Is this normal behavior? I'm talking about someone doing it before every bite of food. Why keep doing it? Has anyone else observed this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Joe Bastianich. Master Chef. Almost.Every.Single.Taste. I want to reach through the television screen and slap him silly.

    1. Every oyster. Every time. Had a couple of bad ones the last few years and that's the kind of flavor that makes you want to huddle in a dark corner with your blankie all night. I do try to be quick and undramatic.

      I think the chronic every-bite-sniffers may have a a bit of obsessive behavior (and I used to be a burner-knob-checker and doorknob-jiggler, so I can relate lol).

      1. I remember that was a Hawkeye Pierce quirk on MASH, although considering what they were usually fed that was probably a good policy

        1 Reply
        1. Just all raw seafood, shrimp, oysters, clams and sushi. Better safe than very, very, very sorry.

          *edit I guess shrimp isn't raw so perhaps I should say all seafood served raw or chilled.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jrvedivici

            the shrimp ceviche is, in many restaurants, more of a raw dish than a cooked dish.

            1. re: jrvedivici

              I wish there were better sushi restaurants available overall. A truly professional sushi chef would never serve something stale. I've actually had one refuse to serve me a scallop dish when he discovered the diver scallop wasn't up to par to serve raw (they were still in the shell, he discovered the problem as he opened it up) and instead offered something else. If only all sushi chefs would do that. Nothing is worse than a mouthful of half-rotten fish.

            2. I like to sniff fruit in the grocery store which I always wondered if someone thought it odd but it's a great way to pick out the ripe peaches.

              5 Replies
              1. re: fldhkybnva

                As long as you're buying what your sniffing that's fine. Just walking around sniffing random fruit without buying it, kinda weird!

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  If an apple smells like an apple, I put it back because that means it's either mealy or too sweet, usually both.

                  It's perfectly acceptable to smell your produce before buying it. Smelling every bite of prepared food, especially in someone's house, that's a little odd.

                  1. re: Isolda

                    What if the apple smelled like an orange? ;-)

                    I smell fruit (mostly melons) too, I was just teasing about smelling random fruit and not buying any.

                    1. re: Isolda

                      Yea, I don't usually smell food directly as you smell is as it approaches your mouth and when you eat it usually.

                    2. re: jrvedivici

                      Very true, that would be odd. But if it doesn't smell ripe or good, I don't buy that particular fruit move on to one of it's neighbors.

                  2. Smell is part of the sense of taste.
                    I think most people smell well enough that they can get that from the plate. I can see cases where one may want that from every forkful...still? I think this should be done unobtrusively. Much as one does while enjoying wine at the table. If other diners notice the "smelling" the smell-er has failed to be discreet.

                    1. B.J. Hunnicutt. Every single bite. Drove his best friend and tentmate, Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, crazy.

                      1. I always smell my food, I've avoided bad seafood this way. It's not just to avoid getting sick, smelling the food helps me to sort out the flavors and makes the food more enjoyable as I taste it.

                        1. Hi NavyMom

                          Well, unless we have an olfactory issue we all smell our food...but it's the sniffing of each bite that seems a little over-the-top.

                          First bite of the casserole wouldn't bother me. Every single bite of the casserole? I would notice, but I'd chalk it up to that person's quirkiness.

                          1. I think I will start to sniff each bite just to see if anyone notices.

                            Although I find his personality annoyingly condescending, Joe Bastianich is checking the aroma of the food he is judging. I think the other judges do the same although maybe are more subtle about it.

                            1. Sorry about that.

                              First, I study the presentation, then smell the entire dish. Finally, and especially if I am trying to dissect the various ingredients, I might smell several forkfuls, as I eat.

                              I do the same with my wines - look, smell, taste.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                I am with Hunt. While I don't smell ever-single-forkful I do often continue smelling a dish especially when trying to decipher a flavor.

                                With wine I smell often as well as its aroma will continue to change as it opens up.

                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  I agree. Smelling a bite of food before consuming it is a means of savoring and experiencing. We discussed this a couple years ago: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/726833

                                2. Eww, you are watching me that closely? Why?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: RosePearl


                                    There are CH's everywhere, and many are taking notes, and also posting photographs.

                                    One is never safe. If it's not the NSA, then it's the CH's, who are monitoring every moment.

                                    Before you even look at your dish, look around first.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      Thanks, Hunt. As if the weed wasn't making me paranoid enough . . . .

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        I assume that you are referring to Tarragon Weed, right?


                                  2. I'll take a good whiff of almost any seafood put in front of me as it has saved me from ingesting funky fish on a few occasions - even at a very upscale restaurant in Copenhagen renowned for its fish.
                                    But sniffing every bite sounds like an OCD ritual that would benefit from some cognitive/behavioral intervention, and that includes Joe Bastianich.