Is It Rude to Smell Food Before You Eat it? (IT DEPENDS)

Good table manners make you attractive and make the people around you enjoy eating with you.

But, people are different and what makes a habit good or bad varies among individuals.

Some things like eating with your mouth closed and swallowing food before speaking are obvious.

But what about smelling food?

So, Is It Rude to Smell Food Before You Eat it?

Well, the answer is not that obvious. Some people may find it rude, while others do not mind it. Some argue that your facial expressions after smelling the food determine whether you are rude or not. For instance, if you smell it and like it, and even say that the food smells delicious, the chef and other people will probably not be offended. But it might appear offensive if you give a blank face or make some funny expressions.

Remember that food preparation takes a lot of time and effort. When making food, cooks always want to impress the eater. However, you’ll be seen as rude, unappreciative and self-centered when you express displeasure. It helps to be mindful of other people when smelling food.

Five Polite Reasons To Smell Your Food

If you are a person who smells food before eating, you aren’t alone.

In fact, according to studies, these habit is common than you think. Various individuals do it for different purposes. The nose can tell you many things about food.

Here are some reasons why people sniff food before they eat.

1. For Safety Reasons

So many people suffer from digestive issues.

Therefore, they need to be extra careful with the food they eat.

Sure, the meal can look appetizing, but they have to confirm whether it is stale or has some funny smell before eating it.

Sniffing the plate for a few seconds can tell whether the food is fresh or stale.

Well, this isn’t always reliable for most parts. But it will work if you’ve done it for ages.

Now, when you are visiting someone, it is rare that they serve you expired food. In these instances, sniffing your plate before eating can offend them.

But, in hotels, especially those that don’t flood with people, you might want to sniff the food before eating to judge whether it is fresh.

2. To Enjoy the Food

Some people want to enjoy the meal’s aroma before eating it. If it smells good, they will anticipate eating it.

Sure, when food is cooked, we all can smell it. However, some take this to the next level by sniffing the plate, especially if they weren’t around during the meal’s preparation.

But if you sniff food, for this reason, you need to remember that taste and smell do not coincide.

A meal can smell great but have a bad taste when you try it. For instance, many of us love the smell of ground coffee.

However, not all of us love the taste. On the other hand, cheeses often smell bad but have a delicious taste to everyone.

Be mindful of this if you are a person who smells food to judge the taste before eating it.

3. It’s a Habit

Some people smell food simply because that is how they are used to it. There isn’t an inbuilt instinct to sniff food before eating it.

However, some do it because they learned this behavior from their parents or have taught it themselves.

If you are such a person, you may feel uncomfortable or even unable to eat a meal before you smell it.

However, you need to be considerate of other people.

Remember that while this is something you are used to, it may be rude or demeaning to other people.

You may have a behavioral problem if you just can’t stop sniffing food, even when trying to be mindful of other people.

In that case, think of talking to a professional if this behavior troubles you.

4. To Know the Ingredients

Well, this isn’t a reliable way of knowing what went inside the meal.

But, some individuals can guess the ingredients just by smelling them.

And by doing so, they may decide to avoid the meal altogether if they realize a particular ingredient has been used.

For instance, most of us love garlic, and we find that it adds taste to meals. However, some people can’t stand the smell and taste of garlic.

So whenever they are served food, they sniff to ensure it wasn’t used.

5. To Prepare Them Psychologically to Try a New Dish

Lastly, if you are trying a new meal, it’s natural that you want to prepare your mind first.

So, you may find yourself sniffing before you taste first.

This is simply a way of preparing yourself to try something you may or may not like.

How Can You Politely Decline Food?

Now we should mention that if you are going to sniff the food and decline it, you need to be tactical about it.

Please don’t lift the plate. Bring it close to your nose and make a funny face. That is rude and offensive.

Instead, when it’s brought to the table, slightly lean forward while smiling, inhale it gently with closed eyes and even if you don’t like the smell, say something nice about the meal.

Doing that will not offend anyone as they wouldn’t know whether you sniffed it in the first place.

But after sniffing, the next challenge is declining it if you think it is spoiled or don’t generally like it or realize it has an ingredient that isn’t one of your favorites.

How, then, do you refuse the food without being offensive?

First,  complement the food.

You can start off with, “this dish looks absolutely delicious, but…”.

Then, next, you want to explain why you don’t want to eat the food.

Please do not say that it smells terrible. Instead, you can say, “I just ate”. Or you can say, “I don’t eat (the ingredient).”

Lastly, finish by thanking the host and changing the subject.

You can say something like, “Thank you so much for offering. How is the new job so far?”

Most people respect your decision not to have the meal.

However, others might get passive-aggressive when you refuse their offer.

That’s okay since you may also react the same when someone declines your food.

But at the end of the day, you need to remind them that your refusal not to eat has nothing to do with the food they offered and them.

Final Thoughts

Smelling food may or may not be rude, depending on how you do it.

If you sniff loudly, it could be rude to some people.

However, if you do it without anyone noticing, it won’t be offensive as they won’t know it.

Additionally, if you will say no to the food after smelling it, remember to be polite, respectful and understanding.

Not everyone will appreciate the decision to turn down their food offer, especially when they put a lot of effort into it.