Sturdy smells don’t at all times deserve the dangerous rap they get. Take Vegemite, Australia’s favorite unfold with a punchy, unmistakable aroma that brings tears to some eyes. So deep is the Australian love for Vegemite that Melbourne has determined to record the odor emanating from the manufacturing unit the place it’s made as a part of town’s heritage. The remainder of the world, together with India, ought to take notice.
The Melbourne Metropolis Council’s choice is exceptional not solely as a result of a odor has been recognised as having heritage worth, however as a result of it’s not one that’s universally-loved, in truth removed from it. Those that’ve grown up with a pot of Vegemite sitting on the breakfast desk could adore its savoury perfume — a present of the brewer’s yeast that’s used to make the unfold — however those that haven’t grown up with it often can’t stand it. This places the popularity in fairly a distinct league from, say, the 2018 Unesco “intangible heritage” label granted to the artwork of perfumery in Grasse, the French area referred to as the Fragrance Capital of the World. It assigns worth to a singular aroma, immediately recognisable to a sure tradition and beloved by it, even when described as “smelly” by the remainder of the world. India should notice the potential on this concept.
We might rejoice the sharp, unmistakable aroma of drying bombil as an inalienable a part of Mumbai’s cultural panorama. What concerning the odor of ripe jackfruit in a Kerala yard? Cowdung truffles being dried on the partitions of a village residence in Gujarat? Asafoetida could have been described by non-comprehending Europeans as “Satan’s dung”, however we all know how appetising a dal smells when freshly tempered with this fragrant. And the way concerning the muscular odor of axone, the fermented soybean paste utilized in Naga delicacies? If something, this nation has a humiliation of olfactory riches to select from.
This editorial first appeared within the print version on August 28, 2021 below the title ‘Smells like heritage’.