« The other side of Restaurant Week | Main | The best fast food in America »

August 13, 2009

I'll have the eau de boeuf, thanks

All I can say is that this is my favorite Owl Meat Gravy guest post ever. EL

I sense a hint of black cardamom and a touch of Madagascar vanilla and ... what is that? ... gardenia? creosote? ... Oh my god! What is happening in my mouth? Grandma Mary, are you back from Heaven? Is that ... oh, someone just strafed the room with a cloud of old lady perfume. Your Windsong stays on my, Windsong stays on my mind .. because it's coating the back of my throat and sinuses. Puh, puh, gaaaaaahhhh.
Restaurants should ban perfume and cologne. No need for a law. Simply put up a picture of a skunk with a line through it.
An essential part of experiencing wine and food is aroma. Noxious odors ruin the experience. Some restaurants ban cell phones because they cause sensory pollution. An assault on your nose and mouth is worse than your ears, plus perfumes can trigger allergies and migraines.
Why do you want me to smell you? I think this new Luftwiffe bombardment is part of a trend of insensitivity to other's sensory privacy and autonomy. It's an assault of narcissism for people to broadcast the minutiae of their lives with Facebook, Twitter and text messages. In the past an I'm With Stupid t-shirt sufficed. I know that obnoxious cologne and perfume is not new, but it fits in with the new techno-narcissism. It's molecular tweeting ... twiffing.
I was eating dinner at the bar in a restaurant recently and a young guy sat next to me. I almost threw up from the olfactory assault of what seemed like Axe body spray, Irish Spring soap, Mennen Speed Stick, and recent congress with a goat.  Suddenly my calamari fra diavolo became calamari Dundork and a massive headache ensued. You should only be able to smell someone you have intimate contact with. Hey dude in the O's cap, I don't like you like that.
My sensualist's caveat: If my girlfriend wore eau du pesto, I would not push her off the plate. To have my woman smell like food?  Tasty. To have my food smell like old woman? Pass. I've never seen Jean Nate vinaigrette on a menu.
Perfume seeks to create an artificial sense of intimacy – with strangers. I can understand why prostitutes use it in that way – artificial intimacy is their cheddar. Hey, lady at the table next to me, if you need to flaunt your Jovan musk oil, save it for when you are walking your panther through the swamp at midnight. Right now I want full-on intimacy with my red snapper in tarragon white wine sauce.
Smell you later.smell%20baby%20crfx.jpg


(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:58 AM | | Comments (75)


Perfume/cologne are fine. Swimming through it before you leave the house is not. You should not be able to smell someone's perfume unless you are withing a foot or so of them. I am allergic to a common ingredient in many perfumes, and if I'm seated near someone who doused themselves liberally in it, my eyes water and I will sneeze constantly until I move to 'cleaner' air. Ruins my dinner, as well as those around me who get tired of the constant sneezing and bless-yous that accompany my allergic reaction.

my favorite perfume is Ellen Tracy and I love candles that smell like desserts(cakes, cookies,etc). Paula Deen has the best smelling Creme Brulee candle...

Tears in my eyes from holding back laughter! Great one Owl! Jovan Musk! Goes great with those tight Jordache jeans!

Nothing like having to walk through a covered bridge on a hot summer's day behind a nasal assault of eau de ewwww. That's gotta be the worst!

I'm with ya, Brother Owl!

Don't break the seal Joyce or you'll have to laugh every ten minutes.

When I walk into the house and smell baked goods I want to know it's because there's a cake in the oven, not some dessert flavored candle burning.

When I walk into the house and smell baked goods I want to know it's because there's a cake in the oven, not some dessert flavored candle burning.

Oh candle, you are such a tease.

Owlie, I dig your post, man. But we've gotta be careful not to let this whole smelling thing get outta hand.

Years ago, when my aunt and uncle were visiting New York City, they decided to eat at a fancy restaurant.

A gentleman sat at the table next to them, ordered food, and when it came, he lowered his head until his face almost touched the plate and began to deeply inhale through his snout. He did this for a while, moving his head in a circular fashion above the plate.

Then he proceeded to eat the food with loud MMMs, as though it was some kind of sexual experience. I can't remember if he licked the plate afterward or not.

Bottom line is, I'll take Eau de Old Ladie over Snout Dude any day.

Owl Meat Guerlain,

"Luftwiffe" took my breath away.

Did you know the word perfume comes from the latin "per fumum": through smoke.

Sam - I'll take Snout Dude over Eau de Old Lady any time.

I can enjoy my food fine when someone else is enjoying theirs and I have to admit to having been very near @#%* with a few dishes I've had.

Eau de anything can and does interfere with my enjoyment.

I know what you mean Sam. I have been guilty of too much ooooing and aaahing. When I started going to Rocco's Capriccio, I sat at the bar with Rosa and tried something different every other day for a couple of weeks. Much pleasure noise-making ensued each time. Oh yeah. Oh baby. That's the way I like it. Yeah, come on, get in my mouth! Work the flavor, work the flavor.

Then one day I was there and Rosa seemed upset. I asked why. She said she thought I didn't like something because I wasn't groaning and sighing. No I was just being normal again.

That can get out of control. When you slap your steak on the plate and yell "Say my name! Say my name!" you have gone too far.

Bravo, Owlie. As usual. You have captured one of my pet peeves perfectly. Not only has overdone perfume and cologne ruined the taste of my wine and food, but they trigger migraines.

Although you can ask a waiter or a manager to speak with someone if s/he is talking loudly on a cell phone or is obnoxiously drunk, loud and profane, there's no polite way to remedy the situation other than to move (which may be impractical or impossible if the restaurant is packed).

Sam, I'd rather deal with Snout Dude any day. That's entertainment!

Nothing wrong with a man enjoying his food.

Gabriel Oak - the candles do a "figure" good though.

Where I used to work they always accompanied meeting notices with requests to maintain an odor-free environment by not wearing perfumes, after shaves, etc. They took allergies very seriously. Perhaps the restaurants need something like the security sniffer they've been trying out at BWI: You have to pass through it to get in and if you trigger the sensor you have to eat outside, with the truck fumes and other pollution.

Owl Meat - OMG, you are so funny

Oh man the smell of old lady perfume. As a kid I hated walking into the Hochschild Kohns because you were instantly greeted with a pugent cocktail of every old lady perfume mixed together.


I get such a headache from perfume, I used to tend bar on a murder mystery train and on wednesdays we used to do a bifocal local where it was a sea of blue hair and jean nate, makes me queezy thinkin about it.

Owl Meat you hit a grand slam over the scoreboard.

Thanks all. It was a last minute job. I wrote it last night and polished it this morning. Word to my Muse.

I just watched the Pepe Le Pew cartoon. In it the birds say, "Le Tweet. Le Tweet." Did you plan to tie that in to the Twitter part of your column? Because if so, that's crackalacking clever.

So did you post this on facebook and twitter? ;-)

You got it, Owlie. I'm another person who gets migraines from extreme perfume. Not to mention, I can't taste my delicate Peruvian charcoal chicken through your Love's Baby Soft.


what, pray tell, is a murder mystery train?

Would that be Chicken Rico?

I think you smell the perfume even more now since they banned smoking in bars and restaurants.

Lovely Laura Lee, gesundheit. I was wondering if anyone would get Luftwiffe.

FYI I referenced my favorite fish dish at the end there at Rocco's Capriccio because I would be enraged if someone ruined its intriguing delicate complexity (Come on, tell me what the secret ingredient is!) with eau du Yuck. The situation was hypothetical, I've never run into anyone like that at Rocco's. I think that dish is even on the RW menu there.

Bien sûr, RayRay.

Sam Sessa, this link describes the Murder Mystery Trains, which still run (occasionally) in Western Maryland. Think of it as dinner theater on the tracks.

I join the others in saying that your post was most excellent! And the cartoon was good too. I started reading the post at work and stopped, deciding to save it for home when I could laugh out loud, and I did.

Remember Aramis? It seems the people that used that cologne used it by the gallon. You could almost smell them before they entered the room. CK Obsession is another.

The only perfume I've ever worn is patchouli oil.

ahhh patchouli oil. essense of earth mother hippies...

The all time worst (to me) has to be Chanel #5. I know how expensive it is but to me it just smells like bug spray!

The only perfume I've ever worn is patchouli oil.

Good god. That's a little predictable. ;-P

For a long while, my theory was that it was smokers that over doused themselves in scent simply because their sense of smell was so desensitized by the cigarette smoke that they could only smell their cologne if they dumped a whole bottle on. Now, I'm not so sure.

Owlie, I never claimed to be original.

Anyone know a good local place to get Birkenstocks resoled?

Oh Owlie, "luftwiffe" and "twiffing" in one graph? Blew me away! Seriously, the scent problem ain't just in restaurants. In Safeway this week I passed a woman wearing scent so strong that I choked ... and I'm not sensitive. Filbert's right -- colognes are much more noticeable since smoking isn't allowed in public places.

I used to be able to smoke in self-defense when people doused themselves in fake scent. Didn't get as many migraines in those days, either.

Man, I hate not being able to smoke any more!

Lissa, I have never owned Birkenstocks, but I take my shoe and leather problems to Stefan on Falls Road. He is another original--you will enjoy the conversation, if nothing else.

I take my shoe and leather problems to Stefan on Falls Road. He is another original.

Another good shoe and leather guy, who is also an interesting character, can be found up in Westminster.

He's a real deal, old school biker. He's not that guy wearing Dockers pants five days a week only to wear his Harley-Davidson jacket around on the weekend.

I always feel like such a dork when I drop off my penny loafers to be resoled. I should be bringing in something cool, like snakeskin boots or something.

Oh Owlie, "luftwiffe" and "twiffing" in one graph?

I had extra f's to use that day.

Full disclosure: I did post this article on Twitter and FaceBook. Techno-narcissism isn't just a river in Egypt.

Thank you, Dahlink and RoCK. I don't know how to get to Westminster by bus. so I'll have to head up Falls Rd.

Eccentric cobblers, wicked cool. He could probably do my Docs, too.

Um...where on Falls Rd., Dahlink?

The men are often as guilty- I can't believe people still wear Polo but my nose tells me differently.q

Owl, mon ami, you are a word merchant non pareil, the maitre of the bon mot, the professeur of the parfum put down.

Too kind, MAG. I have a good Muse.

When I go out to eat, I spray on the Demeter Black Pepper. It is a cologne that enhances the dining experience for everyone with the exception of those who are allergic to pepper.

Old Spice Lime aftershave for me. I stand in front of the mirror and pour a liberal amount into my palms and slap it on my face and scream. That's what a man feels like. Plus you smell like a gin and tonic all day ..... ladies.

You guys are getting soft. I thought that suggesting a ban on perfume and cologne incite people to call me a fascist liberal but nooooo. And where are the pro-perfume people and the stealth Old Spice PR dude. Ugh, such civilized behavior.

Now if you want to witness a real throw-down check out the rumble going on at Kate's mommy blog over MIley Cyrus' pole dancing routine on the Teen Choice awards. 99 comments and counting.

Whose blog is this?

I've been lurking on this blog for several weeks . . . "Jean Nate vinaigrette" finally brought me out of the woodwork. Everyone in my office wants to know why I'm laughing and crying! Thanks EL and OMG for making my day!!

Welcome, debha.

Yay!!! Welcome debha. You get a special welcome gift. As unofficial Rush Chairman, your new Delta Tau Chi pledge name is ... Appaloosa. Tell your friends. The bar and foosball table are in the basement.

Sweet article Owl. Jesus (the pool boy) wears some kind of Mexican cologne that smells like peppermint gasoline. I like the idea of food perfume. Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, yum. let's dance big boy.

I never got a pledge name, :-(

Welcome debha!

Feel free to chime in anytime.

baltimoregal, not just Polo but Brut!

You'll get my Aqua Velva when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Remember Hai Karate?

The shoe repairman who used to be on W. 36th Street moved to Falls Road near Dellwood Ave in Hampden. I went there once to try to find a heel so my niece could play hopscotch. the man gave me one for FREE - he was very nice...

Lissa, I think NotableM almost has it right. Stefan's Leather and Shoe Repair used to be on Roland Avenue, but is now located at 3810 Falls Rd. in Hampden. If you go, tell him Dahlink sent you!

Thanks, NotableM and Dahlink. 27 bus, I think. I'll take my Birkies up after the sandal season ends.

Half the guys I went to high school with wore the same heavy cologne--was it called "British Leather"? Something on that order ... I got a whiff of it a couple of weeks ago and immediately flashed on lockers and crowded hallways.

Think it was called "English Leather" ...

Dahlink, it also could have been British Sterling (a competitor of English Leather, although both brands, along with the equally odious Canoe, were -- and possible still are -- made by Dana).

hmpstd, in California high schools back in my day, English Leather ruled! You could smell it coming down the hall.

Great post OMG.
Maybe old ladies dining out should just stick to what Really Old Ladies used; dab of vanilla extract behind each ear. Would blend in with the food smells much better.

English Leather? Sounds familiar. I have to admit that my sense knowledge of colognes and perfumes is almost nil. I simply don't understand why people would want to smell like anything other than themself. I can't imagine why people would douse themselves in so much chemical subterfuge is a little more understandable but not favorable.

My friend, let's call him Sparky, used to show up at the bar he worked at on his night off just drenched in something (Drakar? Who knows) and when I asked why he reeked like an Istanbul used car saleman he said that well it wears off as the night progresses.

Ladies, has your opinion of a man ever changed based upon his artifiicial fragrance?

I am thinking right now of my GF's natural scent and it is burned into my brain. When I think of it I feel connected and warm and feel like I know her at some molecular level. Real smell is an essential element of smart breeding. There is a lot of science behnd it.

Even though I thought that I was meant to be with someone in the past, when I smelled her hair (we all do it) I got nothing. it made no impression at all except for the ever-present lingering disgusting smell of Marlboro Lights. (Jeez, people, if you are going to smoke, smoke REAL tobacco, not that garbage)

Scent, they say, is an amazingly powerful sense and deeply and profoundly connected to memory and emotion. Why do we want fake emotional responses and memories?

I think too much.

If I started dating a guy who wore cologne I'd have to ask him to stop.

and I'm sure he would

Owl, that stench was called Drakkar Noir, as if the black bottle made it more\"cool"

Anyway, your comment about the "Istanbul used car salesman" had me laughing out loud.

Maybe cologne is a 70s/80s thing. And like disco, I'm glad its over.

I hesitate to say this, but I'd rather smell nasty cologne (read someone who soaked in some heavy, too-sweet scent) to the "natural" smell of someone who apparently hasn't bathed in days. Example: There were vendors at the Lauraville Farmer's Market who smelled sour and unwashed, and it put me off their produce. Instead I bought from a nearby young woman who smelled as fresh as her produce -- no cologne, just fresh and nice.

Good morning, Dahlink.
Good morning, Joyce W.
Good morning, Lissa.

Good morning, EL.

EL, why don't you just kick back and relax for awhile? Take a few hours off from posting; yes, you've been doing it day in and day out for how many months? And now with no copy editor. You know you've always harbored a secret desire to play fantasy football.

Don't worry. The Old Guard is returning. The quintessential blog will still be here.

Remember when Thursdays were fun?

Good morning, Low Liar (is that you, Owlie?)

G'morning, Low Liar!

Good morning, Low Liar!

Post a comment

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

Top Ten Tuesdays
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Restaurant news and reviews Recently reviewed
Browse photos and information of restaurants recently reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

Sign up for FREE text alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for dining text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Food & Drink newsletter
Need ideas for dinner tonight? A recommendation for the perfect red wine?'s Food & Drink newsletter is there to help.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected