Please, please, no more cod, sauerkraut and marinara sauce casserole!
Please, please, no more cod, sauerkraut and marinara sauce casserole!
8182757@N05 @ flickr.com CC BY 2.0

Five Awful Office Food Smells

All right, look. Nobody likes the person who whines about the smells in the office all the time, and it's a free country, and you can eat what you want in your office...

...but that doesn't preclude your officemates from bad-mouthing you behind your back. Certain foods are just best enjoyed at home. Presented for your edification are five of the worst office smells. If you're one of the considerate majority, sit back, chuckle grimly and sympathize; if this is news for you, learn from it and change your anti-social ways.

1. Popcorn

Some people really like popcorn, some can't stand it and some, when the scent of Orville Redenbacher hits their olfactory nerve, have an almost Pavlovian response to it and can't focus on their work because their brains are at Pop-con Four and refuse to function until the "emergency popcorn interrupt" has been dealt with.

The other problem is the titans of industry who put the popcorn in the microwave and can't wait the two minutes and forty-five seconds (THAT'S ALL IT TAKES!) for their popcorn to pop. They wander away to go back to work or they start chatting with someone and the next thing you know, the popcorn has gone too far and there's an expanding mushroom cloud of burnt-popcorn smell centered on the office kitchen.

It's an interesting phenomenon that the only common office food stench that cannot be overcome by bags of freshly-ground coffee is burnt popcorn.

Five Awful Office Food Smells
hknodle @ flickr.com CC BY 2.0

2. Fish

If you absolutely have to bring leftover fish into the office, please for the love of all that's holy eat it cold. Salmon, for example, tastes lovely cold, with a little dab of mustard sauce or a spritz of lemon. That seared tuna you made last night makes lovely sashimi, sliced up and dipped in soy sauce and a touch of wasabi. Cold. Not room temperature; COLD.

The second you put that fish in the microwave, all bets are off and anyone who tries to slice you with a broken coffee carafe is simply delivering justice. (No jury of their peers would ever convict them, either.) The smell gets EVERYWHERE and as weregild you have to walk around with bags of coffee tied around you, apologizing to all and sundry, to try and alleviate the oily pong.

Also, let's not let tuna salad off the hook here. Tuna is an immensely oily fish and the oilier the fish, the worse it smells, even cold. If you're going to eat tuna salad, eat tuna salad (it's so common that it isn't reasonable to try and ban it) but please, please, PLEASE eat an orange immediately afterwards.

Five Awful Office Food Smells
cbertel @ flickr.com CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

3. Egg Salad

When egg salad is properly made, it smells slightly mayonnaisey and maybe a little bit earthy. This means the maker has to know how to hard-boil eggs so that they don't turn green-grey around the yolk, and precious few people know how to do that.

The result of such culinary ineptitude is that when you unwrap an egg salad sandwich (which is a delicious treat in its own right), this noxious miasma of sulfurous, overcooked egg surrounds your space. While it doesn't travel nearly as far as some of the other culprits named herein, it is so much more intense that it's the gustatory equivalent of cropdusting a cubicle.

4. Shrimp Chips

This probably isn't a really big problem in Brawley, Bakersfield or Bishop, but those packaged shrimp chips that are available at Asian markets (and, increasingly, in the Asian foods aisle of regular markets) are the worst-smelling chip out there. They've got this insidious, algae-like scent that is concentrated in the powder sprayed onto the hot chips during manufacture. The problem is compounded by people leaving the bags open or loosely closed, and thus subjecting their co-workers to the stench of krill on fried dough.

The other big problem with shrimp chips is that the second you eat one of these things (or their vegetarian cousins, the Snapea Crisps), you will be afflicted with halitosis that could knock over a silverback gorilla at five meters. EVERYONE will know you are the shrimp chip eater.

5. Desk Fruit

You know who this person is. This is the person who brings in the banana, intending to eat it for a snack after lunch. Then he or she gets called into an emergency meeting and doesn't have time to eat it. Then he or she forgets it's there the next day... and the next... and the next... and after about a week the scent of rapidly-deteriorating tropical fruit has wafted all over the floor.

If you're going to eat fruit at work, put it in the fridge. Yes, that will make your banana turn black; yes, your cold-sensitive teeth will dance to the masochism tango when you bite into that apple; it will not, however, negatively impact your nosh, and it will spare your coworkers the overwhelming smell of rotting fruit.

Other fruit, incidentally, can be just as bad, but if you're bringing durian to work you are simply beyond help.

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