Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gone with the Smell

The recent complaints of fishermen and other Gulf of Mexico area residents about a heavy oil odor in the air which might be toxic, remind us of the other heavy, stubborn odor which presents no danger, only great unpleasantness - the odor of fish.

One could smell a fishing village before one could even see it. The fishing villages have a charm of their own if you could ignore the smell. Well, as a visitor , and only as a visitor, I could. After all, the smell is an integral part of the scenery and the daily life here. People have to utilize what nature offers them . In the areas near lakes, rivers, ponds, seas - the offer is Fish of all sorts and sizes and with... the smell of fish.

(At home, that's a different matter. I like to eat fish, but I dislike the smell and I cannot ignore it as it can stick around long after the 'mess' of cooking and eating is gone. I do my best to find ways to neutralize it. Natural acids like lemon and vinegar usually do the job. There are of course, commercial solutions ,such as enzymatic sprays, which could help if anything else fails).

All over the world the shores of water bodies are punctuated with traditional fishing villages, and the more modern ones, the recreational fishing villages that allow urban people to escape from the everyday rat race.

A half day trip from Amsterdam, Holland, brings you to the world famous historical fishing villages of Volendam and Marken on the coast of the former Zuidersee (now called Ljsselmeer). These villages have wooden little houses, old boats and traditional costumes that are still worn by the local people .

Marken costume and Volendam boats

Things change slowly but surely in the fishing industry: the methods of catching the fish, cleaning, weighing, salting, drying, marketing it, the quality of the boats - all undergo processes of improvement , but... the fish smell with its unpleasantness remains a constant factor which permeats the whole place.

Maybe scientists are able , or will be able in the future to grow in artificial ponds, fish without the specific odour, just as they nowadays grow sabra fruit without the outer thorns or water melons and grapes without the inner seeds. It wouldn't taste the same though.

* The painting on top - "A fishing village in Newfoundland" by Sterling Edwards (click to enlarge it.)


  1. Since I live on the coast and many, many residents here lobster and fish I have grown somewhat used to the smell about the piers. The lobstermen here say its the smell of money! I too detest the smell of fish lingering after cooking it, I usually burn candles. There is just something about that smell.....

  2. We used to go fishing when my daughter was growing up and I usually always had to take a shower when we got home. Such a smell... but oh so much fun! I love fish and hushpuppies, it does leave an odor that lingers, but oh it tastes so good! We use candles and room fresheners a lot.
    until next time... nel

  3. duta,

    visiting your blog feels like speaking directly to a friendly person, about all the matters on earth...

    you always find an interesting subject which is different every time...

    the fish has to smell...
    a friend has to be friendly...
    honey has to be sweet...

  4. I remember you telling this to me in one of my posts on smell. I do agree with you especially sometimes even after eating, the smell remains. Vinegar and lemon does help.

    Wishing you a lovely July dear DUTA,

  5. John loves fish,he would eat it every day in preference to meat,but I do not like most fish and the smell is awful.
    I use lemon on my work surface to remove fish and garlic residue and an air freshener spray to remove the smell from the rest of the house.
    An interesting post with lots of information about fishing villages and I just love the painting that accompanies this post.

  6. Loved the trainquility of the painting, as for the fishy smell. We don't eat much of it, but when I do it goes into the oven wrapped in foil, comes out when cooked, straight onto the plates for us to eat, foil into the bin, and I never get the fishy smell left lingering, apart from a bit of a waft around the bin which is easily rectified by closing the bin (it has a plastic bin bag interior). Seems the trick to stopping the smell is to get the fish into its cooking container with minimal stops betwixt shopping bag and cooking utensil.

  7. Cheryl,

    "the smell of money" - that's a good one.
    I burn candles too among other things. I have to work hard if I wish to eat fish. Well, I do like to eat fish.


    Fishing is a very nice, relaxing sport, and fish tastes good. All this 'good' compensates us for the bad smell.


    Thank you for your visit and for your warm words. I agree with your lovely phrases of wisdom: the fish has to smell", " a friend has to be friendly", "honey has to be sweet". Indeed so.

    Susan Deborah,

    That's the problem with fish. Its strong, stubborn odor stays long after the eating and is felt in the entire house.
    Thanks for the blessing. Have a lovely July too!


    I too prefer fish to meat, like your husband. This has a price: I have to use acids, fresheners, burn candles - in order to get rid of the smell.
    I'm glad you liked the painting; it's very delicate.

  8. Beautiful post. Have a nice weekend my friend!

  9. Love the painting. Now the twist of your mind from oil to fish smells is one of the reason I love to read your post. You just never know what will spur your imagination and then the glitter of facts to pronouce your words. The nose knows the smells of fish and other odors but what a dull world it would be without the sense of smell. I am a true kitty kat and love the taste of fish but the LINGER of the smell is not a favorite at all. Peace be with you today and always.

  10. Vera,

    The word 'tranquility' properly defines the atmosphere of the painting.

    Use of foil sounds like a very good idea.( I cook my fillet fish in the frying pan after taking it out of the freezer and squeezing the water out of it.).

    Phivos Nicolaides,

    Thank you. Have a nice weekend too!

    Lady Di Tn,

    Thanks for your very kind words.
    "What a dull world it would be without the sense of smell" - Well said, I agree with that.
    'Peace be with you today and always" - I like that blessing, Thank you and Peace be with you too!

  11. Hmmm ... fish without smell of fish are not a fish. If the scientists will create fish without smell good for them. But what kind of fish will be that?

  12. I like fish as well but do not eat trout. I don't understand why cooks throw all kinds of seasonings on fish so it doesn't taste "fishy".

  13. buna,frumos blog si interesant,relaxant.Dar lasa-mi si mie te rog frumos comment-uri pe blog la :

  14. Love fish, hate the odor, what's a girl to do? I prefer that my fish be cooked on a grill OUTSIDE. I immediately seal the remains and take to the trash. Beef and/or chicken are more convenient, but as you said, Duta, 'Well, I do like to eat fish!' I hope we never create a fish with no odor. I hate the farm raised fish as well. Some things are better left to Nature.

    Your choice of a painting is wonderful.

  15. Hi Duta :)
    I love the painting you've posted. It has beautiful colors and a tranquility to it. I love fish myself. When fish is fresh it should not have such a strong odor. I must say though, I prefer a fishing village to a pig that's smelly! LOL
    Happy Wishes filled with Love for you, Duta :)

  16. robert,

    One never knows. The taste might still be good. But, honestly we can manage even with the existing odor; we find ways to enjoy eating fish without being troubled too much by the odor.

    * said...

    Thanks for stopping by.

    One Fly,

    I also used to season the fish with sweet paprika or ground turmeric to give it more flavor (not to cover fish odor), but I've stopped doing so recently. I like it more in its bare form.

    Romanescu Ionut-Andrei,

    Multumesc pentru comentariu si pentru follower. Am reciprocat.

    C Hummel Kornel a/k/a C Hummel Wilson,

    "some things are better left to Nature" - Precisely. We'll manage with the smell, somehow.


    I totally agree with you that a fishing village is preferable to..a pigfarm which is even more smelly.

  17. Hello Duta. That's a beautiful painting.
    I love fish as well. Especially tuna and all that comes from sea.(But I'm still trying to learn how to clean them).
    Great pics in Holland.

    Have a wonderful week. (It's Monday here).

  18. Duta - Yes the odor of fish does tend to linger. I can imagine how the fishing villages must smell. I know that a few hours from where I live there is a little city named Gilroy that is the Garlic Capital of the World and the smell of garlic is overwhelming at times. I'm sure people that live there get used to it, but I don't know that I could.

    I've given you an award on my blog Duta, it's the "I Love Your Blog" award because I do so love your blog! Please stop by to pick it up.

  19. Regina,

    I like tuna too, but mostly pollock fillet.
    Thanks for the comment and have a blessed week!

  20. You have quite a remarkable writing style Duta. Felt like I was in the middle of it all. The smell of a fish farm is foreign to me, I don't mind it so much though

  21. Growing up on the Chesapeake bay I'm well familiar with the smell of fish and salt water. Now that I live in the blue Ridge Mountains those smells have a new significance to me....they're the smell of home.

  22. Alicia,

    Garlic - OMG! "overhelming" is an understatement. As for the award, I've already picked it up. I commented about it on your last post. Thank you for the honor. I'm glad and flattered that you considered me worth of getting an award from you.

    Culture Served Raw,

    Thanks a lot for your compliment. I'm glad you like my style. You're welcome anytime to read my posts.

    Rocket Man,

    Welcome! Thanks for stopping by! 'Home sweet home'; there's nothing like home even if it smells like fish.

  23. Duta,
    Thanks for visiting and following my blog.
    I am enjoying reading your posts. By the way, I love fish. I usually leave it marinating from the day before, that way, the smell won't be so strong when cooking it.

    Have a great day!

  24. I doubt if people who have lived through the oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico will ever complain about the smell of fish agian. My heart goes out to them.

  25. Love the watercolor on top, Duta! Can you believe it, I've never been in Volendam or Marken, but maybe because I spent 5 years of my childhood in Arnemuiden, a fisherman's village in SW of Holland (age 5 - 10) -and they still wore the original costumes (with 7 underskirts!!).

    I saw you were on my blog (because of the live traffic feed), but you didn't leave a forgot, or didn't it come through? I'm asking because some other reader's comments disappeared (some came back)...

  26. The only way I can ever cook fish is if I have my husband BBQ it. I just can't take the smell inside my house. Not to mention I have an extra sensitive nose, which is quite burdensome.

    Beautiful painting & picture!

  27. 成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人.................................................................

  28. Doris,

    Welcome to my little blog!
    Marinating the fish a day before cooking it - that's a very good tip. Thank you.


    I'm glad you're back blogging. I totally agree with your words on the Gulf of Mexico people.


    I suppose the village of Arnemuiden fully compensates you for not having visited Volendam and Marken. As for my visiting your blog, I wanted to catch up with your last posts.I've greatly enjoyed the reading.

    Lisa Petrarca,

    Everyone finds a way of preparing the fish so that it helps reduce its smell: grilling, marinating, use of foil. Your nose is fine.


    Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.


    Thank you for visiting and reading my post.