Thursday, July 28, 2011

Foods that make your home smell good

Foods that make your home smell good
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Did you ever walk into somebody’s house and it smelled so good you didn’t want to leave? I remember Mrs. Avle. We lived a few houses down from her when I was 10 years old, and it seemed that she was always making tomato meat sauce. You could smell it down the street and it was absolutely delicious. I even made friends with her son in hopes of getting a chance to taste the source of this mesmerizing aroma. Some children make friends with kids who have pools or ping pong tables, for me it was the meat sauce. And for this sauce I would have made friends with Hitler’s kid.

One day he invited me in after school, I walked through the front door and was knocked back by the smell of perfectly herbed tomatoes, a perfect amount of garlic and savoury beef. I don’t remember his name, and probably ignored most of what he said for the next hour. I looked at my watch, 5pm. Yes, he would be having dinner soon. Mrs. Avle called him up from the kitchen. This was it. ‘OK, look hungry and needy.” I said to myself. I followed what’s-his-name to the kitchen and smiled politely in anticipation for my invitation to eat. Mrs. Avle looked at me with her no-nonesense face. She did not smile. I waited for what seemed hours for my invitation. At this point I was about four feet away from the magical pot. She might as well have been cooking meth in that kitchen, for the smell had made my heart race and my pupils dilate.

Alas she spoke, “We going to have dinah nowe. Y’a go on home.” I wish we had texting back in 1990 cause I would have typed the letters WTF into my cell phone. I never did get to taste Mrs. Avle’s sauce, but I’ve never forgotten that smell.

No one likes their house to smell like last night’s dinner, but there are some foods that can add a pleasant and inviting aroma that will make your guests come back time and time again - even if they don’t remember your name.

Pineapple and citrus fruits. In the hot months we eat a lot of fruit. I always keep citrus and pineapple peels and when guests come over I like to stick them in a pot, fill it with water and simmer them. The essential oils that come off the peels give my house a pleasant Caribbean smell that reminds me of roadside fruit markets in the tropics. You can also leave some citrus peels in your car (without the pulp) in a cup and let the sun bake them into a nice aroma. However, sometimes I’ve left them in there too long and it became too strong. So you gotta get the amount of time just right.

Virgin coconut oil. I like to fry most foods with some Kelapo virgin coconut oil instead of butter or olive oil.  It gives off a really nice, subtle coconut smell. I also like that the smell is light and doesn’t stick around for too long either - it knows when It’s time to go home.  Whether you use it for grilled cheese, stir-fries or scrambled eggs, it’s always nice to have a coconut aroma lingering while enjoying your meal.

Cinnamon. Whenever I smell up the house with strong foods like oily fish, my wife puts on a small pot of water and sprinkles in a bunch of powdered cinnamon with a little vanilla extract. I think it makes our house smell like the Yankee Candle store, but I guess it’s better than salmon.

Do you have any foods that add a pleasant aroma to your house? Do you know someone who makes their house smell so good you never want to leave? Tell me about it! You can email me at I’m always happy to hear from my readers.

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