Eau de Bio-Diesel

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Ever been driving along, lost in gridlocked misery and despair, when suddenly through your vents creeps the scent of something so delicious it makes you weep? I can usually pinpoint the source without much effort: a cloud of smoke from a Weber grill floating over a cinderblock wall, say, or a plume exiting the chimney of a wood-fired pizza joint.

This morning, lumbering down Beverly, I got smacked upside the head by some tasty fries. No source in sight, and the weirder part is, the appetizing trail continued for miles. Was this an olfactory hallucination? My nose twitching more furiously than my dog’s on a breezy day near a Dumpster, I struggled to figure it out. Finally, idling at Larchmont, I noticed the car I’d been tailing: a platinum-colored, 1980s diesel-engine Mercedes-Benz with a bumper sticker across the back window that proclaimed: FUELED BY VEGETABLE OIL. Could it be?

As I learned from an au courant style story in this month’s issue, the diesel Benz is a popular conversion choice. I called Silver Lake’s Lovecraft Bio-fuels when I got into work and asked if it’s possible that the exhaust that comes out of a converted bio-diesel could possibly recall a Saturday afternoon at a diner. Yep, it’s true, said a nice lady there named Virginia. She explained that the origin of whatever you put in—tempura oil, French fry oil—can come back out as a delectable fragrance from the tailpipe. She told me that a motorcyclist once flagged her down, just to compliment her aromatic exhaust. How delicious.

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