After Chris and I got married we briefly rented a tiny bungalow across the highway from a place called Meacham Park, a.k.a. the Kirkwood ghetto. The house had one owner, a chain-smoking couple who died, months apart, both in the master bedroom from complications due to what else? Smoking.
The smell of cigarette smoke emanated from every surface in the house. We had the carpet ripped out and we repainted, yet that old stale smell lingered, no matter what chemical or scent we tried to mask it with. The first time I cleaned the house I spent an hour wiping nicotine off of the doors. The house was cheaper than other places, minutes from our jobs, and convenient - I was pregnant and throwing up so many times a day that my doctor threatened to hospitalize me for dehydration - I could barely work much less house-hunt.
I was so glad when we moved.
Saturday night I decided to get all Barefoot Contessa and made chocolate-covered strawberries using the three-pound bag of Ghirardelli chocolate chips I got at Sam's. The recipe called for two tablespoons of vegetable shortening for every two cups of chocolate used. I followed the recipe and noticed that the smell of Crisco reminded me of something and as I took a bite of the first chocolate-covered strawberry, I realized what it reminded me of: It tasted exactly like our old house in Kirkwood smelled.
Apparently, bad Crisco smells like a 1950s bungalow that's been smoked in for forty years.
I threw out the Crisco and the entire POUND of chocolate-covered strawberries because they all tasted like that old house smelled.
"Ohmygawd! This, this is literally the worst thing I've EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH." Chris choked.
I half-vomited my bite back up in the trashcan; we both raced to the bathroom and brushed our teeth with huge heaps of toothpaste, but we still couldn't get the taste out.
"Did you make that with food?" he asked incredulously.
"Yeah, strawberries, chocolate, and Crisco. The recipe specifically asked for Crisco."
"How old is that Crisco?"
"Um, Crisco ages?"
"Okay, well, we're either going to die or have the runs now, so keep an eye out."