Gathering aroma of your meal

Really this is about smelling your dish before you eat it, but the title sounded better this way.
My (US) GF (Peru) gets very offended when I handwave the aroma of my plated meal towards my nose. Is it insulting to smell your meal beforehand? Or is it only insulting to smell your meal beforehand while you are with the person who had prepared said meal?

Very insulting. Maybe the hand wave . But not sticking your nose in it . Sounds like your in the kitchen anyway. Why .

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OK. But there is definitely a difference between being in a room, returning to a room, and enjoying aroma of a dish up close.

Wow…this concept seems to provoke strong reactions. I know that I have been guilty of doing this, and certainly enjoy dinner party guests doing it before glowing with smiles and comments of luscious aroma. Like taking in the scent of wine before tasting. I certainly take it as no offense, and actually appreciate it when guests avail themselves of and prolong every aspect of my offering.

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I would say . " Looks fabulous. " Then take a whiff


I don’t think it’s insulting, but if I saw you doing this, I’d think it was performative, as if you’re demonstrating to those around you how seriously you take your food.


You did a better job of saying what I was thinking than I was going to myself.

See also: holding your wine glass aloft and swirling. Yes, you sometimes need to shake your wine around. No, you don’t need to look like the Statue of Liberty when you do it.

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When I cook I’m immersed in the aroma of food. The cooking process develops the smells as whatever I’m cooking progresses. Often the smell starts with onions and garlic and just gets better.

When it is my wife’s turn to get to cook the aroma usually hits me about three steps from the top of the basement steps to my home office. There isn’t any need for histrionics.

I think @small_h hit the nail on the head. The described hand waving is performative and by extension pretentious. I agree with the GF. I don’t think this is anything geographically cultural–just good manners at table.

Have to say, the issue has never previously entered my head.

But, now it has and I’ve been able to consider it, I’m concluding that I really don’t care one way or the other. That said, if someone finds anything I might do/say at dinner to be offensive, then I’d try not to do it again. Might not succeed, of course.

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The performance aspect is interesting and was only mentioned as I have done it. With or without the wave she is offended. Appreciate the replies but I still am left wondering WHY me enjoying the aroma is offensive to her. I will have the conversation but wanted to see how others felt.
The wine comparison is a good one.

Ha! First person that comes to mind is my brother! He eats with his nose, not his eyes. It’s a big lifelong tease in my family. But, he has a very accurate, highly sensitive sense of smell and it is handy from time to time.

Bro walks in the front door and announces what I’m making before he even hits the kitchen. We smile at his magical gift like only brothers can, drink a beer and laugh all night.

I can’t speak for her, obviously, but no one can see you enjoying the aroma unless you do something with your face or your body or your voice to indicate as much. So I would venture to guess that it’s not the enjoyment, per se, but whatever else it is you’re doing to telegraph your enjoyment.

Is it a cultural issue of what is expected as table manner? Maybe you just ask why she felt offended?

I live in France, here serious eaters smell their dishes before eating. I see this a lot with the judges of Top Chef.

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The simple act of lowering my head to smell, while doing nothing else, also is offensive. When she reacted this way the first time, I got the message but sometimes forget it bothers her and gather the aroma.

Unless you do it in a way that looks like you’re inspecting her work?

I am wondering about the cultural issue as well which is why I posted here. In Tampopo there is a great scene where an older gentleman is showing a younger how to appreciate and respect your meal. That is what I have always thought I was doing, but in a much more esoteric fashion.

There is, of course, the possibility that your girlfriend is being unreasonable. But if I thought my dining companion was trying to show me how to “appreciate and respect” my meal - without me asking him to - he might find himself wearing it.


Table manners are terribly important to some people. OTOH.

“With or without the wave she is offended”.

That might be a warning signal.

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I have a sibling who sniffs everything that way…

Reading some of the other comments, perhaps it’s cultural.

If something smells lovely and you take a whiff of it, it could also be considered complimentary. So I guess - what’s your expression while you’re doing this? :joy:

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