Titillating food aromas: what turns you on (and off)?

You could be walking down the street, sitting in a restaurant, even your own kitchen. What food aromas get your palate going? For me: fresh bread baking (a recent Irish Soda Bread in the oven), porcini mushrooms added to pasta (sat next to a fellow enjoying his risotto porcini recently), earthy truffles, bbq…
And, which food aromas turn you off?

Turn ons would be fresh baked goods like bread and cookies, garlic sauteeing and the smell of curry leaves when they hit hot oil.

Turn offs is the sulfuric smell of eggs, the smell of fish cooking (I’m not a fish eater), and the metallic smell that comes from raw meat/blood sometimes.

Garlic!! It immediately brings back happy memories of childhood, I love when making a pot of gravy how my house smells as I saute the garlic and onions. It just smells like my childhood home, and it is the best cooking smell that I can imagine. I am exactly the type man that the women in Italy created the Puttanesca’ sauce for!! (google the origins of Puttaesca sauce!!)

Second would be meat, steak etc.

1 Like

Bread, coffee, beer, onions and/or garlic, bakeries, Chinese food places, meat on the grill, gumbo in the pot

1 Like

Colcannon (frying up in a pan as I write :joy: )
Turkey in the oven turning brown.
Celery, onions & garlic being sauteed.
Any roux-based soup cooking slow on the stovetop.
Spaghetti sauce going low-and-slow at about the four hour mark.
Beef stew in the crock pot.

Can’t think of any turn offs. (we probably avoid them).

There are so many…

The soul-satisfying smell of fresh bread you make.
Hoppy beer.
Munster cheese. But not any Munster, the raw milk and made by small producers in Alsace kind of Munster. These tend to be extremely aromatic and have far more depth.



Still remember the amazing smell of food in Taiwan. My hotel has a small rooftop pool in which I swam every day. The smell of food being cooked on the streets below was hard to ignore when one had to get some exercise whilst on holiday.


We have several restaurants and trucks in my part of Houston that grill whole chickens Monterrey, Mexico style. I’ll drive out of my way for a whiff if the wind is right.


Turn offs: Subway bread, durian, waffle cones


Definitely carmelizing onions, sauteeing garlic, a nice garlicky roast beef or rosemary roasted chicken. Chocolate cookies baking. The lemony, shalloty, winey smells of chicken piccata (maybe that’s just fresh in mind from last night). A slow-cooked beef stew on a cold snowy day.

I could live without the smell of cabbage or brussel sprouts in the house.

The essential part of food aromas as a young one in KC were coffee courtesy of the Folger’s Plant, and Hickory, the scent of BBQ which permeated everywhere I roamed. One can sense a wood burning BBQ joint beyond a mile away. Just something you learn as a young foodster.

1 Like
1 Like

Love the smell of bread baking in my house.

Hate the ‘bread baking’ smell in the grocery store!


Turn on , any fresh baked bread
Turn off, walking by any fast food restaurant that I can smell.

1 Like

What do you do in the case of Subway?
A chain whose most notorious feature among many is the noxious smell of baking bread? Is it the exception that proves the rule? :slight_smile:

1 Like

OK you got me there, I can handle subway, and where I live we have Penn Station subs, both are ok, but the rest just gag me with that wonderful aroma of fat and and whatever is in the so called food! Getting old does have advantages, I don’t need of have to eat fast food anymore.

1 Like

People cooking stews with onion and garlic… each time I smell this from somebody’s home, I feel a bit nostalgic (don’t know why, it’s not even from my child hood), it’s more like a memory from my last life. (yeah and I don’t believe in afterlife!)

Baking bread - A so called expert said that if you want to sell your house successfully and with a good price, during the client visit, try to bake bread.

Burgers and fries, and Kebab doesn’t smell good in public transport.
Cooking oil smell on clothes when exiting a grill restaurant.

On: frying bacon, simmering beef stock (my mom made it all the time growing up as a base for Filipino dishes), cookies or brownies baking, and chicken being roasted

Off: hard-boiled eggs, durian, peanut butter, pickle juice, onions, ketchup :nauseated_face:

The turn offs mentioned on this thread like the smell of cabbage or brussels sprouts, does that mean you don’t eat those items either, or is just about the odor?

Baked bread or cookies.
Roasted chicken.
Roasted garlic.
Long-simmered beef stew.
Spaghetti sauce that has been simmering on the stove for hours.

Cooked cabbage
Hard-boiled eggs (unless I’m eating them)

Oh that’s the worst, there are a few deli’s that I refuse to go to because once you step in that oil/grill smell permeates your clothes. I HATE that.

Help cover Hungry Onion's costs when you shop at Amazon!

Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr