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The 12 Most Offensively Odorous Foods You Should Avoid Eating At Work

Okay, so I know a lot of people describe themselves as one, but I am a real foodie. I just love digging into a hearty, well-prepared and well-presented meal. And I can appreciate pretty much every cuisine from all corners of the world. As long I can taste the blood, sweat, and tears (not literally), required in the process of cooking a mouthwatering meal, I'm satisfied.

But not only are the presentation and taste important factors in the enjoyment of my meal, I also need a dish to smell absolutely divine. I need to be immediately won over by its aroma. Unfortunately, there are many dishes I simply cannot stomach because their smell is just way too off-putting. I mean, a dish's smell is often the very first impression you get when it comes to how the food is going to taste. So if it smells terrible then I usually don't hold out much hope for my taste buds.

I love food, yes, but there is no way in hell I'd try any of the following foods as they are some of the most offensively odorous dishes in the world.

1. Surströmming

What's the first delicacy that comes to mind when you think of Sweden specifically? For some it's their classic take on meatballs, for others it's a simple Knäckebröd (crisp bread). But personally, after many a horror story from my peers, I think of one particularly smelly fish dish, Surströmming.

So what exactly is Surströmming? Well, it's sour, fermented herring and its smell is so offensive that the official government website of Sweden even refers to it as having a "pungent smell of rotting fish."

They also very kindly recommend that you wash the herring before serving it and warn anyone willing to purchase it that "the tin should be opened outdoors but its contents are best eaten indoors as the smell attracts flies."

2. Stinky Tofu (chòu dòufu)

It is called stinky tofu for a reason and the reason is that it smells like total garbage. But in spite of that, this fermented tofu dish, usually served deep-fried, is a very popular street food in China. Luckily though, when cooked thoroughly, that rotten smell almost completely disappears.

3. Lutefisk

Lutefisk is very popular amongst Norwegian Americans in the Midwest. It is made by reconstituting dried cod in lye (an alkaline solution often used for cleaning) for several days and then boiling the fish until it develops a jelly-like consistency.

4. Doenjang

This fermented soybean paste doesn't look particularly appetizing and it also doesn't have the most appealing smell. It is, however, a major part of Korean cuisine. So I guess don't judge it by its cover or it's... smell.

5. Iru

Yet another food item that will do nothing to water your mouth with its look or smell. But again, it's a very popular seasoning in some places, particularly amongst the Yoruba people in Nigeria. It's made by fermenting locusts which is why it has a pretty nasty odor... and look.

6. Limburger cheese

Generally, people are reluctant to go anywhere near this heavily odorous cheese. But in Wisconsin, it is actually pretty popular, and is featured in the Limburger sandwich on pumpernickel with mustard and sliced raw onions.

7. Natto

So these very gooey, sticky-looking fermented soybeans are widely eaten in Japan and are usually eaten with sushi, noodle dishes, and miso soup. Its odor is pungent, to say the least. But luckily, there is an "odorless" version of the delicacy.

8. Re-heated fish

You thought plain old fish was bad? Try reheated fish. In fact, according to a report (by Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia) published in the Wall Street Journal, reheated fish is one of the most hated smelly foods by office workers. Apparently, liverwurst sandwiches and microwaved burritos are also repeat offenders.

9. Vieux Boulogne

Back in 2004, a group of olfactory researchers at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, England determined that this cheese is the most odorous in the whole world. Yes, it's so bad the smell is often compared to poop (no lie).

10. Durian

As ambiguous as it looks, durian is actually a southeast Asian fruit and is often used to stuff sweet buns and used in smoothies. It's enjoyed far and wide for its nutty flavor but unfortunately, it's also reviled for its particularly pungent smell.

11. Kimchi

Kimchi (or kimchee) is the most renowned dish in South Korea and is increasingly being discovered by people from all over the world. It consists of fermented vegetables and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unfortunately, like the other items on this list, it sure does stink.

12. Hongeo

How much does Hongeo stink? Well, it smells so bad that The New York Times dubbed it a "delicate mix of outhouse and ammonia". Amazingly though, this fermented skate dish is an actual delicacy in South Korea. It is served raw and its odor can be attributed to the build-up of uric acid in the fish flesh which ultimately transforms into the rancid-smelling ammonia.

If I've sold any of these dishes to you, then God bless you for your willingness to try absolutely anything in spite of how awful it smells.