I was chatting with the best parasitologist in the world yesterday and she asked me something that was uncannily topical. Uncanny because it was only on Friday last week that I had sent music biz bro a text about the subject. Topical because it was a topic.
Darwin asked me what I thought about the theory that, when a chap eats a lot of curry, the sweat can start to smell of it. Of course Darwin herself smells of chocolate cake and science labs, but I thought it was an interesting question, one that I've puzzled about for some time.
In the life formerly known as a married one I would have probably eaten rice and curry once or twice a week. On really good weeks I just might have hit the number three and a holiday to Sri Lanka would throw the figure on the how many curries a week has RD eatenometer off the scale.
Then, during the segment of my life during which I lived on my own for a year or so, saw me eating less home cooked rice and curry but far more from the Bengal Brasserie, the absofuckingtastic Indian at the end of the road. I guess the frequency must have gone to about twice a week.
Now, back at the 'rents, the curryometer has gone to new extreme levels, the sort of high numbers that are usually associated with Sri Lankan public holidays, calories absorbed in an average Christmas holiday or the number of people that read Indi.ca.
I'm certainly not complaining. The food is great, plentiful, delicious and welcome. It comes at me from all angles and only occasionally leaves me yearning for the blandness of some chips or a sausage or two. Anything not eaten, in true Sri Lankan parent style, is tupperwared and put in the fridge, to reappear the next day/week/month or year in a different form.
But there is a downside, the smell. After several days of eating R+C I start to feel as if it's somehow sweating its way out of me. The topical relevance to my discussion with Darwin is that I received a text, or SMS in Singlish, from music biz bro last Friday. He was at my parents' place, I was at work. He was trying to persuade me to go back there by describing the mouthwateringness of the mutton curry my Dad had made and that they were tucking into.
I, being the captain of industry I am, responded to him by saying, and I quote
"Son I've got curry oozing out of my bloody pores at the moment!"
Which I felt was true.
The parasitologist and I had quite a lengthy discussion on the matter. She feels that sweat is fundamentally odourless and sent me a few links that would seem to agree with her. Her opinion is that the smell comes more from external factors. So, you walk into an Indian restaurant and can often find your clothes and being end up smelling of the food and spices that get mixed with your general bodily juices.
Or you cook a nice rice and curry meal and the wafting spices, the curry leaves and garlic will blend in with your natural smells to create the odour that is you and I.
Me? I partly agree with Darwin, but also think that the curry smells do come out through the sweat. My belief is that when a chap eats a lot of spicy food some of those spices and flavourings start to ooze out through the pores and mix with the sweat. I don't know the science, you'll have to ask Jennifer Aniston about that, but I'm sure the sweat actually starts to have an odour itself.
There are however, levels of complexity to be added to the simple starting theory. First is the suspicion I have, based on a sample size of roughly zero but also with a lifetime of experience, that odours come through the sweat on men more so than on women. Even I, with my sheltered and naive background, have met a few rough old soap dodging birds in my time. But none of them have ever smelt as bad as a soap dodging bloke.
I reckon it may be the case that mens' sweat is different to womens'. You lot, with the breasts and femininity usually smell of sugar, spice and all things nice, except the spice. Us men invariably reek of engines, soil and curry. That applies even in the case of a good metrosexual like, er me. Maybe it's to do with testosterone, testicles or test matches, I know not.
Also this whole theory about sweat, curry, men and women goes flying out of the window quicker than you can say "flying out of the window" when I go to Sri Lanka. Granted, the smell inside a Sri Lankan bus is unlikely to be used as the inspiration behind the next Jean Paul Gaultier eau de toilette, but the fact is that people in England smell far worse after intensive curry eating than they do in the Motherland.
Maybe it's to do with climate, perhaps it's because we all eat so much rice and curry there that we become immune to the smell in others. I don't know, but ti definitely throws a spanner into my otherwise well researched findings.
So what do you think? The comment box is waiting for your input. Is Darwin right? Am I right or are we both right?
Oh yes, I lied about the blood bit, I've got nothing to say about the stuff, but it is my birthday today.