perfume of rotting mouse

cheese mouse Β©

Every year we have had mice coming into out house presumably to find a place to hibernate. We would be perfectly happy to let them do so if they didn’t insist on scurrying around in the walls and invading our kitchen. Then there is the danger that they will chew through electrical cables and start a fire. They already gnawed through a water pipe and caused a flood. So, eventually, we put down poison.

Now, every year, the mice come into the house and they die in the house and, of course, not in any part of the house we can reach. As a consequence, we had to endure the stench of rotting mouse. The first two years this happened it upset me a lot – the stench is an unwelcome presence (only in a utility room and the bathroom… “only”!??!) and takes time to fade.

However, this year, somewhat less hysterical about the whole thing, I decided to just accept the stench in good grace. Strangely, as it has changed (analogously in my mind with the change in flavour that results from my new habit of drinking successive infusions of green tea – throwing away the 1st, drinking the 2nd through to 4th or 5th) it has evolved into a scent that now walks the edge between unpleasant and interesting. Am I becoming a connoisseur of the scent of decay?

And why should such a concept be ridiculous? Consider how many people – especially in the West – aquire an enjoyment, passion even, for the odour and even taste of rotting milk – ie. the more extreme cheeses.

Posted by Ricardo

writer and blogger

7 Replies to “perfume of rotting mouse”

  1. Poor you! I can’t imagine what you’re going through! My mother had a dog, once, which was great at catching mice, though she actually only got two in the house, that we know of. We could reach both of them so never had to live with the stench of a decaying animal indoors! Still, as I have already said on facebook, I prefer that, even with the smell, to a bunch of nasty insects crawling around!!! Just open the windows, weather permitting.


  2. Well, when you think about it, most of the things that are the best for us grew out of fermentation:

    Natto – Japanese fermented soybeans are SO good for me, but most people can’t stand it (smell or the taste). The taste was a bit acquired, I didn’t like it at first, but it was actually kind of addictive, and as time went by it just became good.

    Keffir is another one – it’s basically sour milk, but in the…I THINK Mongolian? tongue, it is a word similar to the world “life”, because it’s so nutritious. It’s a drink and a meal. ^^

    When we’re eating yogurt, it’s more or less the same concept as eating little guys that eat mice, just different types.

    Oh – and I’m very impressed with you throwing out the 1st wash of green tea. πŸ˜› Although I drink it anyway because I feel it’s a waste of water – so it’s flavoured water. And #2 and 3 are the real tea experiences. ^^

    I think perhaps a similar experience of stenches is going into a public toilet – in China for me, I haven’t had the chance to try them in other developing countries. I don’t like it, but the smell isn’t so repulsive I wouldn’t go in, but many people can’t stand it. Frame of mind as you said.


    1. your fermentation point is well made – though you forgot alcohol!?! *grin* I’ve never tried your natto or keffir, but eat quite a lot of miso. As for yoghurt, I love it – plain without anything added – and the milder cheeses…

      As for the 1st wash (is this a translation of a Chinese term?) of my green tea, I too was concerned about the waste of water and remedied this merely by adding only enough water to cover the leaves, brewing it a little, then chucking that out. I can’t see the point of adding more water than that…

      We modern Europeans are hysterical (and hysterically funny) when it comes to some (many?) things – foreign toilets are one of them. We used to be so filthy that the Spanish kept commenting on how much incense the Aztecs burned every time they came near them. Turns out this was not an Aztec habit at all – they were merely burning the incense so as to smother the stench coming off the Spanish *guffaw* This happened with European visitors to Japan as well, no doubt China also. People in Europe were afraid of bathing because they were convinced it could lead to fatal diseases. Apparently, Queen Isabella of Spain had 3 baths in her life – once when she was born, another just before her marriage and the third after she was dead… one can barely imagine what sleeping with her must have been like?! As for our cities, you could smell them on the road many miles away…


      1. Oh yes, I forgot about miso, as it doesn’t carry the usual fermentation smell as well. I love that as well! πŸ˜›

        You’re right about alcohol, but I’m not a fan of it on the taste, and on the effects it has on people. The only exception is when I make deserts, in which case it is an indispensible ingredient. Moonshine in brazil is made by chewing Banans and spitting them out and leaving that for a while …. πŸ˜›

        Hm..well green tea has exposed to a burst of hot water, otherwise prolonged exposure will destroy most of the so called nutritional value, although on another note, it also just destroys the taste. There’s a Chinese word for good bitter and bad bitter. Overdone tea is bad bitter. πŸ˜› The Chinese have their tea rituals, much like the Japanese do. Actually, tea leaves used to be eaten along with the water as it used to be a medicinal drink. As such, in some dialects of Chinese, one still “eats” tea, not “drink”. It is also during this time (Tang) when the Japanese got their tea from China, which is why there’s tea powder, which is really just ground up leaves.

        Which reminds me – some teas are fermented too. The most expensive type of tea in China Pu’er is much like wine – the age increases the price exponentially.


        1. hmmm… that Brazilian moonshine sounds like the kind of thing Innuit do…

          can you please explain more fully what you mean by “exposed to a burst of hot water”..? Do you know what the pinyin is for “bad bitter”…? Just browsed pu’er tea – most fascinating! Have you tried it?


  3. so true!
    there is a cheese from the nearby village of AzeitΓ£o, that smells horribly, yet it tastes wonderfully…
    the human mind works in a terribly twisted way…


    1. I don’t think I’d call it twisted… My dog is probably worse in her tastes than either you or I could possibly be *grin* If we think back to not only the origins of our species, but even the way so many of us have to live today, it’s not always possible to be so fussy as to turn food down merely because it smells a bit… (Not, by the way, that I’m suggesting I want to eat my long dead mouse… *wide grin*)


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