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What's that smell and why is it permeating my food?

alikaprincess | Mar 15, 201502:01 PM     33

Please help! I need to figure out what could be causing this, ruining expensive food, and how to fix it if possible. I live in a reasonably sized apt in a top floor in Northern California, but because I rent all my kitchen appliances are old as hell (fridge, that stupid white fridge, stove, dishwasher, cabinets,all of it ancient) Every now and again I will eat something and it will taste awful and have a funky smell to it. The taste mirrors the smell, its not rancid, but smells kind of nutty, but its not pleasant, like maybe resin or oil? Definitely like something that shouldn't be eaten. The smell that permeates and causes the taste (I assume) has ruined a bag of pine nuts ($$$$), other nuts, and most recently an $8 bag of whole foods cereal. The smell is not super strong, it doesn't waft through the kitchen, and it can't normally be detected until I taste, go bleck, and then smell it. Its always the same smell and taste but seems to only affect nuts and grains, and no they are not old or expired. I bought a bag of pine nuts and detected the taste within 5 days. It happens whether the food stuffs are inside the fridge or on top of the fridge (like cereal) but doesnt happen to everything, only certain items. For this reason I thought maybe the old fridge could be leaking some chemical or something but I recently smelled the smell on a kitchen rag that was inside a drawer buried under a rolling pin across the kitchen from the fridge. I still smelled it after I washed the rag and it was much stronger on the rag than it has been on the food. Maybe a resin from the cupboards? Old lead paint? Who knows! Do you? Please help if you'd had this or similar experience. I would really like to solve this so I can stop ruining food, and no I can't buy a new fridge but would be glad to know if this is the issue. I'll also add that last summer I cleaned the fridge top to bottom, scrubbing cupboards and floor tiles and walls with bar keepers friend and a toothbrush and its still happening, so not sure if smell is caused by old oil or what. We even moved the stove and cleaned under and behind there. Any suggestions or assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks much.

Update: I appreciate all the helpful notes about the cupboards and paints. It is a very chemically, yet nutty smell. Im wondering how I can know if its linseed (is there anything distinctive about that or a specific way to tell) and would painting over it diminish it? Also, I really think its something with the fridge and I want to make sure its not dangerous/poisonous. The rag in the drawer has the smell, and once a bag of nuts in a cabinet got it too but when it happens I notice its mostly occurring to things in the fridge door or on top of the fridge where its a bit warmer. In fact, I started storing nuts in the fridge because I thought the smell was from them "going bad" in the cabinet and wanted to help them stay fresh as long as possible. Could warmth be causing some funky reaction? The food stuffs that are affected are always in their original bags i.e. the plastic bags nuts and cereals come in from the grocery. Nuts in those resealable ziplocky plastic bags and cereals I roll up tight and clamp or rubber band. No leftovers or fresh foods are ever affected. Also it really is just nuts and certain grains; for example, cereal will do it, but not rolled oats in the same spot. Likewise, rice and pasta are fine but the bag of nuts they're touching has the funk. So weird. Any more insights? I just really want to make no sure poisonous old fridge chemicals are leaching into my food. Its just strange that the smell and taste is always exactly the same. If things were just going rancid you'd think the smells/tastes would be different depending on the food item and length of time. Oh, and there's no gas in the house, only electric so it can't be any gas leakage from appliances but maybe something else coming out of them? Thanks again for any further input.

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