Smells Like Garlic: The Case of the Mysterious Smell

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love garlic? Or even how much I love roasting garlic? We have a tendency to use garlic a lot. Like an obscene amount, I’m sure.

So about three weeks ago, my daughter was sitting on the couch midday, looks up at me and asks me,

“Mom, what are you cooking?”

I’d been working for the previous hour or so, and hadn’t even gotten up, so I looked at her rather strangely.

“What do you mean what am I cooking? For dinner?”

“Yeah, I guess….”

“I don’t know, I haven’t decided yet… “

There was a long drawn out pause, and she looked around. “Then what do I smell?”

The interesting thing, was… as soon as she asked, I smelled it too. It was the faint smell of garlic. I wasn’t cooking. Nobody had been in the kitchen for hours, but what did we smell?

This same conversation happened several times again over the next couple of weeks as we would get various whiffs of whatever it was we were smelling.

My son thought it smelled like pork chops a few weeks ago, and then like sausage for the past few days.

Daughter #1 smelled garlic, but then said it sort of smelled like I was cooking steaks.

Daughter #2 said it smelled just like I was cooking something, but she wasn’t sure what.

Daughter #3 is the one I had the original conversation with.  She distinctly smelled garlic.

Daughter #4 can’t smell much due to allergies but she said she occasionally smelled garlic too.

This has been going on for weeks. In our living room. People thought I was always cooking. My husband hadn’t said a word, but he works nights so we weren’t even sure if he noticed.

It wasn’t there constantly, just … often. He hates garlic. He’s the only one in our house. I use one garlic clove and he comes in and says something like “think you used enough garlic?”

My response is usually “Nope. But you’re eating this, so we cut it WAY back.”

So over this past weekend we took a road trip to drop my daughter of at a college program she is attending this summer.

On the way home, he mentions that someone needs to clean our TV Trays because the one he used the previous night to put his laptop on, smelled like someone spilled garlic all over it.

There was some snickering because we had been wondering how long it would be before he smelled the smell too. He told the story of smelling it strongly.

At first he thought it was one of our dogs so apparently he picked her up and started sniffing her and successfully scared the buhjezzus out of her. Then he moved on to the couch which he kept sniffing and couldn’t place the smell.

Then it was the tray which he apparently scrubbed with a kitchen sponge for several minutes and then got frustrated because he couldn’t make the smell go away.

My son and 2 daughters were home and we called and asked them to track down the smell.

For hours they tore apart the couches, smelled every inch of every cushion, dug down deep into them, moved them, swept and still came up with nothing.

Then they cleaned and cleaned the trays, and any other surface in the living room.

But to no avail.

The mystery garlic smell remained. I even moved my big garlic jar from one part in the kitchen to another in case that was what he was smelling.

So today, we have been smelling it ALL day. ALL day. I have to admit today is the first day where it actually smelled like meat seasoned with garlic today.

I smelled what my son smelled. And it was making me nuts. Again, we tore apart the living room. We looked everywhere.

FINALLY my son decides to move some books on the bottom shelf of our coffee table, an area we never use (it’s for coffee table books all stacked up) and the smell gets stronger.

And we finally locate the smell.

My precious daughter, the one who isn’t home at the moment and attending a college experience, brought home a bunch of seed packets, bulbs and plants with me about a month and a half ago.

We spent hours out in the garden planting everything. A lot of things we already had growing.

It never occurred to me to ask her if she had planted the garlic.

She hadn’t.

I thought she had, which sucks because if you know anything about planting garlic… garlic isn’t supposed to be planted until Fall. So yeah.

All this time it was under my coffee table in my living room, getting stronger and stronger.

Well, it has a bit before we can plant it, but in the meantime, my garden is doing pretty well and we solved the case of the mystery garlic smell.

I’m kinda of sorry it’s gone, only because I’m pretty sure my house just smelled like I was cooking 24-7. Just kidding, of course.

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    1. How my husband doesn’t love garlic, I have no idea…. he’s miserable in this house because I use it a LOT!
      Of course, my husband claims to BE a vampire…. so…. 😉

  1. Hahaha, too funny! I actually had a similar experience in my backyard. “Why does it smell like garlic out here?,” I wondered for weeks. Well, a previous occupant of my home had planted ONE garlic bulb in the most random location at the corner of the garage. Why they planted one bulb in this location, I’ll never know. But the shoots come up every summer. I’m just unsure when to harvest the bulb. How do I know when it’s ready to pull? Guess I need to do some research.

  2. LMAO Nicole! That would drive me INSANE. Literally. I’d be tearing everything apart trying to figure out where the source of the smell was. You guys are amazing for living with it as long as you did. At least the mystery’s solved. I love garlic so much. I throw it in everything. And it’s good for us too, so I never feel too bad about eating a lot of it.

  3. I thought there was going to be some great garlic recipe – then I got sucked into the story and had to figure out what happened! 🙂 I had friends in college who used to put cold cuts under the seats of each others cars. Now that was gross.

  4. Hah so you just helped me solve a similar case of a mysterious garlic smell!! My husband and I had been getting whiffs of garlic in our bedroom on and off for weeks. I was worried it was some terrible chemical (they are doing construction outside), then I came across your post: Suddenly I remembered that my mother in law had sent me garlic cloves to plant in the care package box that was sitting beside the bed! Mystery solved ?

    1. That’s absolutely hilarious. I’m so glad you found the source of your smell. Garlic is amazing but not so much when you’re not trying to eat it right then. LOL I was hungry all the time. lol