Hi, Shell and all,
Does asafoetida (also had a much shorter name that I can't remember at the
moment) smell bad? In a word - YES! I was warned about the smell beforehand,
having people describe it variously as "dirty socks", "cat box" and "worse
than anything I could describe". I don't know how yours could have been so
pungent as to affect your entire house through all that packaging, though.
Mine is just in a wax-papery bag inside a cardboard box and we don't smell it
until I open it. I admit to holding my breath when I do. You use just a
pinch in some Indian dishes and it has many healthy properties, as I
understand it. I was also told that cooked it has an oniony taste. I never
noticed that myself, because usually there were already onions in the dish.
I was predisposed to putting up with the odor, though, as I take valerian root
in a capsule occasionally as a muscle relaxant. I don't know how anyone could
drink that stuff in a tea - we call it "stinky herb" and have to warn each
other when it's coming out of the bottle! After that, I had the experience to
deal with reeky things that are good for you. At least they don't *taste*