France is famous for its cheese, and quite a few French cheeses are distinctly aromatic. One of the stinkiest comes from the area between Deauville and Lisieux in Lower Normandy. Simon loves to tell people the story of us spending Christmas in the area and taking a block of the local Pont l'Eveque cheese home on Eurostar.
The other day he announced that the fridge smelled, as if there was stinky cheese in there, but he couldn't see the source of the aroma and was mystified. Eventually I remembered that I had bought a Petit Pont l'Eveque some days earlier. It was unopened, and hidden under something else, but after a few days in the fridge had completely stunk it out. We happily unwrapped it and ate it and the fridge problem disappeared. A clear win-win.
The French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss had quite a lot to say about this particular aspect of our approach to food and how our attitudes are culturally acquired. He points out that these distinctions are entirely learnt, and not instinctive or innate as one might think. He illustrates his point at one stage by relating how, in the days after D-Day, American troops would occasionally encounter fairly whiffy dairies in the Norman countryside. To the unsophisticated Americans, who had never been exposed to anything more challenging than processed cheddar, they assumed the dairies were full of dead bodies, and burnt them to the ground. They were revolted and wanted to eliminate the smell.