This month’s Scent Semantics word is “taste”. Among other challenges in writing about that word and fragrance, I don’t own many gourmand fragrances, it’s not a category that particularly appeals to me above others. Then my blogging friend Nose Prose posted recently about Belgian chocolates that were inspired by Guerlain fragrances, ordered after an article about them in Fragrantica, and that sent me in a new direction.
It is a truism in reading and writing about fragrance that the sense of smell is intimately linked to the sense of taste; and we’ve had our noses rubbed in that, so to speak, during a pandemic in which an early symptom for many people, including one of my daughters, was the loss of their sense of smell. The absence of smell also deprives most people of their sense of taste, and that was her experience. (Luckily, hers started to come back after about a week, as she recovered from COVID-19 pretty quickly, and is now fully restored). Without smell, there is very little taste, which chefs know well, but we usually think of that in terms of spices and aromatic edibles. Some chefs and others have taken this a step further; I love the notion of creative food artists taking their inspiration from perfume, as well as perfumes inspired by cocktails.
Here’s what Nose Prose wrote, in part, about the Guerlain-inspired chocolates after actually ordering and tasting them:
The milk chocolate heart, inspired by L’Homme Idéal, is half praliné with roasted sesame seeds and half almond and green tea “with a hint of matcha.” This one is the most textured of the three, which suits itssavory flavor notes. Matcha seems to find a way to go well with everything.
The red heart made of white chocolate is inspired by La Petite Robe Noire and filled with half dark chocolate ganache with cherries and half praliné with hazelnuts. This fusion brings together the best of both worlds, which are usually enjoyed separately.
Finally, the dark heart inspired by Mon Guerlain is half dark chocolate ganache with bergamot and half milk chocolate ganache with lavender and chili. This I found to be a brilliant combination and despite my usual preference for milk chocolate over dark chocolate, this was my favorite of the three. I would love to see bergamot used more in food and drink besides Earl Grey tea.
Aren’t they pretty? I love chocolate, especially dark chocolate, but it seems as if there are more drinks inspired by perfumes than chocolates. There are “mixologists” who have created cocktails based on famous fragrances. Vogue magazine even published a few recipes so we can make some at home, and so has Creed. I’m not much of a cocktail aficionado, but the descriptions of these makes them sound very alluring. Probably the most famous bar doing this work is Fragrances, a bar in the Berlin Ritz-Carlton, which began with a cocktail based on Guerlain’s Jicky: “One perfume in particular, Jicky by Guerlain, the oldest continuously produced perfume in the world, inspired him to deconstruct its ingredients. The result was a cocktail made with bergamot, vanilla, lavender, rosemary, and lemon.” Doesn’t that sound delicious?
Ten years ago, the Food 52 blog posted about a special four-course dinner designed as a collaboration between the chef, fragrance house MCMC, and perfumer Anne McClain. Now that’s a challenge! It makes sense to base cocktails on fragrances, as they both use notes of various herbs, fruits, florals — but an entire dinner?
My fantasy dinner menu would probably start with a citrus of some kind, to emulate top notes — perhaps a grapefruit salad with mint leaves, garnished with jasmine blossoms for scent only, inspired by Jo by Jo Loves.
That could be followed by a cold soup, maybe with melon, tangerine and plum, harking to Le Parfum de Therèse by Edmond Roudnitska.
What to do about a main course, though? I don’t know many fragrances based on the odors of fish, meat, or poultry, so we’ll either have to stay vegetarian or pick a main course where the focus is on an aromatic sauce. Basil is a clear contender, but that immediately brings to mind pesto, which has a lot of garlic, so my menu will have to be more creative. I think a Thai dish would suit, with a combination of basil, coconut, spices, lime, ginger — and that sounds a lot like Yosh’s Ginger Ciao.
Dessert course? I think that must be a lemon/vanilla soufflé, with a touch of bergamot and mandarin orange, inspired by Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, created by Thierry Wasser.
Coffee, anyone? There are so many fragrances that include notes of coffee, I’ll let you decide which one appeals to you to finish out our fragrant dinner. What might you have on your own fragrant menu? Don’t forget to check out the posts by the other Scent Semantics bloggers!