What is stinky cheese?
Stinky cheese is a washed-rind cheese type that features a strong, funky smell produced by bacteria growing on the cheese's exterior. While the smell of stinky cheese can be overpowering, the bacteria causes chemical reactions that help to give this soft cheese a complex, nutty, and buttery flavor.
What makes stinky cheese smell so bad?
The strong aroma of stinky cheese is created by bacteria called Brevibacterium linens or b.Linens growing on the rind, which is produced by washing the cheese in a brine of saltwater or alcohol. While the bacteria produce a pungent aroma, it also helps to ripen the cheese from the outside in to give it a complex flavor.
Why does stinky cheese smell bad but taste good?
Here's a fun cheese fact: though stinky cheese may smell unbearably bad, the taste can be pleasurable because of something called "backward smelling." The science is tricky but it boils down to this: our brain perceives a difference between the way we smell a cheese when inhaling through our nose, and how we taste the same cheese when the aroma wafts up through the mouth to the back of our nose. Something about the combination of the funky smell of stinky cheese through the back of our nose and its creamy texture on the tongue causes our brain to perceive sharp/bad smells as warm/delicious tastes.