Friday, February 6, 2015

Episode 23: Damn Near Edible (or, The Pleasing Aromas of Food)

Because the sense of taste and smell are so closely tied, there is no surprise that comes from finding some of your favorite fragrances are modeled after aromas you find pleasing. I personally love vanilla, cocoa, mint and orange. However, I dislike lemon, lime, strawberry and toasted coconut. Although it doesn't stand entirely to reason that I dislike the flavor variations (for example, I do like to eat strawberries, and vanilla is one of my least favorite flavors of all time), there is usually some correlation. But I'm not here to lecture to you. I just want to talk about some of the amazing scents whose sources taste great or vice versa. So let's do the thing.

The Pleasing Aromas of Food

Perfumery has been going on for thousands of years, so we can deduce that at its' inception, the art of perfume making was forced to work with natural ingredients that were available. At the time, this would have only included organic compounds, which is why so many of our fragrance notes now are derived from nature. Citrus, floral, wood, these are all organic compounds. (All though of course, not every scent is organic in nature. One that pops up with frequency in the scents I prefer is gunpowder.) The scents created by man, that later were added to creative perfumery are many fewer than those pulled from nature. Not surprisingly, the food we eat often pleases us aromatically as well.
Our senses are complicated, and so is our understanding of why they exist as they do. It is possible that our sense of taste and smell helped our ancestors find and determine which foods were safe to eat. Pleasant food scents would therefore be preferred, and the unpleasant avoided. Although we each have our own personal preference when it comes to the scents in perfume, that idea of "good" and "bad" food scents still remains.
For example, many scents used synthesized versions of ingredients that could be costly in it's natural form. There are also those scents whose chemistry breaks down quickly when not properly extracted, such as grapefruit. Despite the idea that "fake" is bad and "natural" is better, many of these chemical forms have surpassed their original scent inspiration in both lasting power and potency, with the addition of being more pleasing on the nose. (It is rumored that some people find natural grapefruit to smell of body odor.) Although not a popular perfume note, it is the same with cilantro. Many people love both the scent and flavor, but others (perhaps yourself included) find it hard to swallow, so to speak. Those who dislike cilantro seem to be in agreement that it possesses a "soapy" scent and taste. I personally love cilantro and don't find anything soapy about it!
Of course, it is safe to say that those scents were are attracted to belong to the edibles we find most pleasing to the palate. Just as babies quickly learn to prefer sweet foods over salty or sour, so do we, in general prefer the sweeter citrus, fruits, herbs and spices in our scents. As a matter of fact, the entire category of "gourmand" scents gained popularity in the early 1990's, due to the commercial success of Thierry Mugler's Angel (source). Now, it is difficult to find a scent without even just one or two of the traditionally "gourmand" notes. But despite the sense that everyone loves sweets, many people do not enjoy the cloying heaviness of a gourmand scent.
Fresh citrus, juicy fruits and astringent herbs are all edible morsels whose scents translate into popular perfumes. Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue is a wonderful fragrance with a hint of lemon. For berry, I've become particularly attached to Cartier Baiser Vole Lys Rose, a light and lovely scent. The refreshing herbal scent of lavender is an ever-popular addition, and one of my favorites from the Jo Malone Amber & Lavender cologne. With so many edible, incredible scents to choose from, which one is your fave? Let me know down in the comments!

I am so, so sorry for the massive delay on this post. I came down with a sinus + ear infection and didn't have the brain capacity to finish the last ten percent or so. Regardless of my bad timing, I hope this discussion post inspired you, and I'd love to hear what you have to say about "edible" scents! Have a fave? Trying something new? let me know in the comments below! Pleasant journeys~

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