Twenty years ago, I purchased a one-thousand cigar box made by Ellie Bleu at no other than Lorenzi, my favorite shop in Milano. This was a monumental investment for a cigar box and my adventures carried forward.
A few years later, a well know poster art dealer in Paris, Alain Vey, offered me a box of old Cuban Davidoff. Gratefully I took them home and put them into my cigar box, with the box and in their box. One month later, I noticed an odor in my cigar box. It wouldn’t go away and it was a strong odor and stunk like hell.I took out all the cigar to air them but the odor persisted. The cigar box’s walls were effected by the odor and I left it outside and open for a week. The odor persisted so I had it taken back to the manufacturer and they concluded that it wasn’t possible to repair. The box was put into the cave.
A few years later, my assistant purchased some bananas and without asking put them in the fridge. I was away for a week and upon my return, I opened the fridge and the same odor as before. I tried with baking soda to remove the smell from the ventilation of the fridge but not 100%. The fridge was more or less contaminated but could be salvaged.
In Tokyo, I was working out at the gym and grabbed a towel to wipe my face. I said, “oh no, how horrible”, the towel was contaminated with the same odor. I took it immediately and placed into a sealed plastic bag.
I asked my assistant to have it sent to a lab for a test, and I felt relived after twenty years. I waited anxiously and after a few days, my assistant told me the lab needed to know what bacteria they should look for. I was annoyed and simply requested that they find causes of the that smelly off-odor.
After a week, I had no news so I persisted and the news arrived. The smell was caused by Aspergillus, a species of highly aerobic molds but it also grows in nutrient-depleted environments where there is a complete lack of key nutrients.
Aspergillus species are common contaminants of foods and grows in or on many plants and trees. There are many interesting strains of this mold such as Aspergillus koji but this strain, you find in air conditioning units, on fruits, boxes, or on any material stored in an environment where the mold can grow. It grows on almost anything is not something you want to breath in your lungs.
I still continue to find it all over the world. You find it as a black mold that you can wipe from an a/c machine or it is invisible on a salad or container. Recently I threw away a container of arugula I purchased in a well-known Toronto based food store. It is not their fault given 99% of the population has no idea about it.