In a Public Setting? Don’t Be Eatin’ THESE!

​I used to teach at a college that had a student commons outfitted with three, sometimes four, microwaves and a refrigerator. It’s the microwaving that’s prompting this article. Can we talk?

I’ll never forget the day that someone microwaved what was likely the 832nd bag of hideously burnt popcorn in that past year. It sent acrid waves of stench throughout the building. So here’s the deal—it’s time folks realized there are other people around. People who have noses.

It goes without saying that we shouldn't eat foods like the dead corpse-scented durian, Limburger cheese, natto, or really any other fermented food product in a public building. We must have some olfactory common sense that prompts us to avoid those foods out of politeness to others, right? With that said, then, here is the list of the top five common foods we should avoid eating / cooking / reheating in public, AT ALL COSTS.

5. POCORN: It annoys everyone when you microwave popcorn. Why? Two reasons: Number one, most people burn it. For whatever reason, microwaves seem focused on nearly incinerating a bag of Orville Redenbacher® no matter how short an amount of time it’s cooked. 30 seconds? BAM. BURNT. And number two, on the rare occasions you don't burn the popcorn and stink up the whole place with an odor that clings to the walls like 1970s Holly Hobby wallpaper, another smell takes its place: the smell of FOOD WE CAN'T HAVE.

Unlike other people who are quietly sitting at their desks, odorlessly munching on a bag of peanut M&Ms or a KIND bar, you're letting everyone in a 50-yard range know that you're eating food they can't have. Delicious, buttery, crunchy, movie theater food (that is if it didn’t burn first…see reason number 1).

4. CURRY: Maybe you don't live in an area with a high concentration of curry fans. But if you live in, say, the United Kingdom or Houston, you know the aroma of a freshly-microwaved bowl of Indian food. It's the person eating it. To everyone else, the strong scent of the curry punches you in the face with a force that makes your eyes water and your nose run. Worse -- like the burnt popcorn smell -- the overwhelming aroma lingers for days, making the entire building smell horrid (a horrid that lingers).

​3. TUNA FISH: Of all the sandwiches you could bring for lunch, you have to bring the one that smells like a wharf? Do you realize that we can't escape that odor? That now the entire area smells like a fishing boat after a 30-day slog through the Gulf? NOT a pretty smell.

2. SMELLY VEGGIES: The biggest culprits here are asparagus, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. They’re most offensive when you're cooking/reheating them, of course. When cooked, these smell like someone let a flatulent dog into the office and fed it a can of beans. And onions, well...they smell like onions. Raw, they make your eyes tear up until you can't see. And cooked, the greasy yet acrid aroma haunts you (and your work area) for the rest of the day. Stick to carrots, celery or some other inoffensive vegetable.

1. MEXICAN FOOD: Our number one offender. No other cuisine captures as many strong and offensive aromas as Tex-Mex. Stinky onions? Check. Acrid salsa? Check. Greasy cheese and chips and chile con carne gravy? Check. Malodorous beans? Check. The inevitable gas that comes from eating all of the above ingredients? Check and check again! If you need a Mexican food fix that badly, have mercy; leave the building and go to a restaurant.

Thanks for listening…


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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