When they first put my newborn daughter in my arms, I bent to smell her hair and was instantly transported back to the five-year-old me, standing with my grandfather in the pig barn. One of the sows had just farrowed, and my grandfather reached into the wiggling, snuffling litter, picked up a piglet, dry and clean from its mother’s tongue, and gave it to me to hold. I put my nose to its cream-colored bristles, and inhaled the subtly rancid scalp smell that twenty years later would be my first experience of motherhood.
I\’ve never met a stinky cheese I didn\’t like– Camembert or Taleggio, the riper and runnier the better as far as I am concerned. On the other hand, and this may seem strange coming from a former goat lady, I cannot abide the \”goaty\” tang of most goat cheeses. It is the musk of the rutting buck, and if you ever go near one of those Beelzebub-like creatures, dousing himself with his own urine in preparation for lovemaking, you won\’t forget it. Milk absorbs smells easily, and the scent of a buck in the farm down the road can contaminate the milk of a sweet-smelling doe. When my does came back from their autumn visits to the buck, I would feed their milk to the dogs and chickens for three days before I could even think of making cheese with it. But lots of people appreciate a whiff of buck in their cheese, and who am I to judge?
For my part, I find the smell of skunk as I drive down a country road in summer pleasantly reminiscent of the Jovan musk cologne that I used to splash on myself every morning back in the 80s, when shoulder pads proclaimed our womanly assertiveness and it was not yet politically incorrect to wear perfume.