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Flavour Guy: Let out the cat, peel an orange, and sell that house

No one is going to buy our house. The smells are too complex.

Not that our house is for sale, but I have recently become aware of how a distinctive but pleasant aroma may induce mortgage mania.

It’s been a couple of years since my dad passed away and the manse in which I grew up is for sale. The real estate agent seems to know what she is doing. The house is vacant. Much of the furniture has gone so that it can be “shown”. The home where we grew up seems lonely. Walking through it the other day, I had to pause to imagine that a family was once there. This is a common problem in real estate. But apparently the right aroma can help. This is a job for Flavour Guy.

What would get someone to make an offer? Freshly made chocolate cookies, a herbal infused potpourri, apple cider bubbling away on the back burner, truffle inflected pizza coming off the grill? ‘Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven.’

“Ah,” the prospective buyer would say, “such wonderful aromas. My mouth waters. I must have this house.”

Well, before you get the Pillsbury Doughboy involved, it turns out that I am wrong. New research indicates that complex smells don’t work. They are too, well, complex. Here comes the buyer, already wondering what she is doing as she sets her foot onto a crumbling step. The door opens, the real estate agent hands out a sheet with descriptions and taxes written in 9-point type.

The buyer has already seen three other homes that day. Ok relax. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. What’s that? Arghh! Apparently complex smells are the final bit of information overload that our addled prospective buyer has to deal with according to “real tips” from the website homesandland.com.

Rigorous testing has shown that the best smells are simple: an orange, a lemon—a nice piece of fruit, as those from the old country would say, but not old shoes, cat litter or doggy bedding, and certainly no sour grapes, rotting apples or ripe bananas.

While all of these are common in our house, they would have to be removed should we ever want to sell. Out go the shoes, the old fruit, and the cold pot of morning coffee. Unlike life, in real estate, it is rare that to the victor go the spoils.

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Fruit compote

What do we do with old fruit? Fruit compote! This is fruit preserved in simple syrup and if the word has a striking resemblance to compost, just strike that idea from your mind.

Seasonal fruit this time of year is likely to be apples and pears. (In summer, it’s the berries.)
Peel, core and cut the fruit into chunks.
For every pound of fruit, add a tablespoon each of water and sugar and a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Cook over low heat until the fruit has cooked down, but is still a little firm.
Add a few dashes of spices you like (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves). Remove from heat and serve warm with ice cream.

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2 Comments

  1. Jean Caplan says:

    Hi Barry,
    I had to do the same with my parents home a few years ago. Yikes! We found things that we had not seen in 5o years. Then, once the house was sold, new buyers totally transformed that which I had lived in since I was 14. I got a tour of it and was blown away by how something one takes for granted is turned into something else almost completely. Life teaches us all sorts of interesting things.
    Take care and have a good Passover. Lou and I will be back Friday evening since I have a conference on the Saturday. Hope to see you around on the weekend as we all stagger about feeling rotund from all the good food and Matzos. Have a good one.
    Jean

  2. I have so many memories from the house on Beverly Avenue including the “Rehearsal Dinner” your parents, actually it was your Mother’s idea, before our wedding 53 years ago!!!

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