If you’re anything like me, the next time you travel overseas, you’ll indulge in the local cuisine. Be warned; you are what you eat.
After living in India for two months and eating Indian food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there was no mistaking it; my armpits oozed a body odour potent enough to kill a small child. When I flew to London to visit some friends, after a long and sweaty flight I immediately apologised for smelling like a curry.
“Don’t be stupid, Sarah,” my friend said. “You don’t smell.”
I lifted my arm and steered my armpit towards her nose.
“Oh my God!” She stumbled backwards like a drunk.
I LOVE Indian food, but the daily intake of rich spices, coconut, and ghee emit a smell I DO NOT love.
Prior to moving to India, I lived in Korea for three years. Every morning I braced myself for the taxi ride to work. The car windows would be tightly wound up in the -20 C winter and the cab driver would have the heating turned up to a sauna-like temperature. In summer, the windows would be closed to block the outside heat as the air-conditioning recirculated cool air throughout the car. In such claustrophobic, contained environments there was no escaping the stench of garlic percolating from the drivers’ pores, mixed with the morning-after smell of a heavy night drinking soju. A distilled rice liquor, soju, is to me, the cousin of methylated spirits. The day-after fumes of this potent alcohol could be confused for antiseptic.
Once I had survived the cab trip to the office, the tightly packed elevator ride to my floor was a replay of my earlier suffocation. The fire of garlic licked the air. Vapours of soju curled under my nose. My daily commute to work trained me in economic breath management.
I was put in my place when a Korean friend said to me, “You westerners smell too. You smell like … I don’t know …. sour …. like dairy…”
I’m not sure what’s worse, blue cheese or the combination of garlic and soju. Either way, it won’t stop me from stuffing myself stupid with the local cuisine wherever I travel.