Can’t Catch Me…

“I’m the gingerbread man”, is of course, is the end of the line.  Just what is it about gingerbread that makes it such an enduring recipe?  Is it the zippy flavor, is it the once upon a time priciness of its components?  Considering the origins of things like mace and cloves the shipping costs of spices alone were, long ago, tremendous.  Eating gingerbread before the clipperships was tantamount to eating gold.  So was spice a class marker?

It’s hard to say.  But spiciness remains a large tranche of the perfumer’s palette.  The most recent spice monster I’ve encountered is CiocoSpezissimo, one of Hilde Soliani’s line of holographic Italian fragrances.

It’s a very strange scent. And although I like it, I wonder if the general public will?

In keeping with all the scents in the HS line, Ciocco recreates a specifically Italian smell.  In this particular case, the scent is chocolate panforte.  If you’ve never been to Tuscany, panforte is a heavy, flat cake, liberally spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and usually studded with almonds and raisins and hazelnuts.  You can buy great big wheels of the stuff the diameter of UFO’s usually presented between two white wafers, designed to keep the stickiness off your fingers while slicing or eating. The wafers, in my experience, don’t work.

Although I don’t remember the ordinary panforte – too like fruitcake – I do recall the chocolate ones.  To be honest, the best thing about them was their smell.  They were impossible thick and chewy too eat. A veritable  cattle call of ingredients packed into a tiny space: like thirty two people in a Volkswagen Beetle. Compressed down to an impossible molecular weight, panforte is a kind of Black Hole for foodies.

Panforte was probably far too complicated a set of tastes for someone raised on Hershey’s (as I was, a little chocolate, a little milk powder some sugar some vanillan and we’re done) as opposed to chocolate, black pepper, cloves, mace, cinnamon, allspice and possibly jalapeno.  The whole thing is impossible to read, full of a chaotic darkness sort of like Mole sauce (if you want a reference from the Americas) heavy and full of half sensed ingredients.  I wonder if raisins are in Cioco?

Spicily inscrutable as it is, Cioco comes off as very sophisticated indeed for a gourmand,  much more so even than that old monster mash of fixatives, Opium. Completely ambidextrous sexually, this ginger bread man will leave most of your pursuers in the dust, when it takes to its heels, wondering just what it is about your silage they find so irresistible?

But they won’t catch CiocoSpezissimo, no, not even its drift.

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8 Responses to Can’t Catch Me…

  1. Michael says:

    This one sounds interesting. I haven’t tried anything from Hilde Soliani. I get what you mean about the dense heaviness of panforte – I’ve tried variations of this sort of thing in a number of European countries.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      It is all that. And by the way, the final drydown is frankincense. Which, I suspect, is not in panforte. At least, none that I’ve ever eaten.

      (How are you surviving the Olympics? I understand central London is a ghost town. Missed opportunity for me!)

  2. Mals86 says:

    I despise chocolate in perfume with a special hatred. Love spices (but hate Opium even more than chocolate, due to its Youth-Dewy balsamic nature).

    But I really enjoy spices in my dark chocolate (mmmm, Mexican chocolate!) and if you throw some dried fruit in there I’d probably love that too.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      That’s what I thought. Matter of fact, I thought from the description that I was going to HATE Cioccospezisizzimo, but then I really didn’t. I mean I go further than you in that I normally never wear Orientals, but this one grew on me as did Bel’Antonio which is the coffee/tobacco perfume in the line. Hard to say what it is about these perfumes, but they are just so Italian. As opposed to French which would mean more elegant, but less charming. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

      • Mals86 says:

        Yes, I think it does… a “French”-attitude perfume doesn’t care what you think about it, it just IS. An Italian one doesn’t care that you don’t speak Italian, it just smiles and gestures a lot, and you communicate despite the language barrier.

        • Blacknall Allen says:

          Plus the French perfume has seen it all before, if you try to tell it anything new, it will say, “But of course!” and there goes the helium fizzling out of your conversational balloon!

  3. Meg says:

    I’m intrigued and intimidated by your description of both the perfume and the panforte– but I’m sure hunger for both will overcome all obstacles. Maybe not now… but come the holidays, when impossibly rich, complex, and choco-lated treats counteract the bleakness and chill of the season. (It’s for that very reason that I cannot wear Bittersweet by Tokyo Milk any other time but winter– but then, I MUST wear it.)

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Should have sent you some! Oh well, next time for sure. Very virtually calorific, if not actually so, but I like the fact that Ciocco gets on so well with food. My French fume often just acts like my Mother and says, “You don’t expect me to stay in the kitsch-en do you?” My Mom had a thing for bad puns.

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