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olfactory offense!

I live in an apartment building next to a very nice family. They are from another country (won’t say which) and they always cook their traditional foods. The problem is, the cooking stinks up the whole floor of our building! So much that it is even coming into my apartment. It smells really bad…and it’s starting to make me gag.

If it was once in while, I could deal with it, but the floor has an almost permanent stink to it now!

They are so nice…I dont want to say anything to hurt their feelings, but I am thinking I may have to move if this goes on for much longer. I open windows, burn candles, nothing helps!

I even hate to invite guests over because of the smell.

What can I do?

—Yes, I Can Smell What the Rock Is Cooking

The Practical Cogitator says: Did you ever consider that your neighbors are offended by your scented candles, incense, and chemical deodorizers?

Sounds like your neighborhood has gone to the overly scent-sitive dogs…I suggest you move yourself to another dog house. Woof.

The Gay Perspective: I have trod this path before—and no, there is no easy solution. This might be an issue to take up with the landlord—as in, “There is an unpleasant odor in the building, and if this is not corrected, I will move.”

Do the apartments have adequate ventilation hoods above the cooking areas? If, not, this you might need to offer the range hood solution, when the landlord inevitably explains that the source of the smell is your neighbor’s cooking, and implies that this is now your problem. Be advised, however, that if the neighbor pays the rent on time, the property owner might not care, and you might be portrayed as the intolerant villain.

On top of that, some types of cooking will permeate regardless of excellent ventilation. Unlike instituting a “no-smoking” policy, the landlord cannot dictate what his tenants eat. If the landlord approach fails, you will either have to make good on your ultimatum and move, or wait until your neighbor does—either of which might be a better solution than a cold war, or open hostility with the neighbors—a situation which will make living in the apartment far more unpleasant than the aroma of their dinner.

The Straight Skinny Says: The Practical Cogitator is correct: Move. If this cooking odor offends you so much that you feel compelled to write to us about it, then you’ll never be able to ignore it. You’ll dread the smell even before you open the door to the house. You’ll obsess over your hatred of the smell. Nothing will exorcise your aggravation. So move. That’s what you’d do if your apartment smelled like cat urine, right? This is no different.

Alternately, if you want to try to overcome your dislike of the smell—and that’s your only option here, because neither you nor your landlord have the right to ask them to stop cooking the food they like—you might try finding out what exactly they cook. Wrangle an invitation to dinner, ask them to try their food, or find a restaurant in town that serves the same dishes. Perhaps if you eat some of their “traditional food” and enjoy it, the smell will cease to trouble you.

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