Rice Flowers

Funny thing, although rice is a mainstay of the Italian diet, you tend not to think about it in that light.  We hear: Italian, we think: Pasta. But in fact, in northern Italy pastascuita is less frequent than some very ancient grains like polenta (which to an American Southerner is grits, though the corn is yellow and invariably cooked into solid blocks) and rice.

The whole of the Po Valley is simply ideal for growing rice – flat and marshy,  like one big rice paddy and in parts it actually is one.  So Italians like rice and eat a good deal of it in the form of risotto.

When Guts and I were younger, and in much lower water than we are now, I plugged in that whole rice cuisine to make ends meet. Risotto was my way out of a tight budgetary corner.  It worked too.  Risotto ai Funghi was for the months when mushrooms came, in the fall, with beef broth, primavera for the spring vegetables, with chicken broth, and so on.

Rice has never tipped over the edge with me into dislike, despite the frequency with which we ate it.  And so when I ran into a perfume that was actually called Fiore di Riso (Rice Flower or Flower of Rice) it was an attractive concept to me.  Rice notes have been in perfumery in the last few years, there’s at least one Kenzo which features the note and when I had Kenzo Le Parfum, I could have sworn that I smelled a bit of rice in the dry down.  Be that as it may, Fiore di Riso is one of those creamy comforting gourmand scents that border the territory of the white floral.

If it were a bit more floral, and there is something in it which smells vaguely like gardenia, then it would really be a floral, and if it were just a tad more like a very nice rice pudding, then it would be a gourmand, but as it is, to my nose it straddles the line.

Fiore is vanillic, but not crassly so, floral but not cloyingly so, and sweet but not tooth achingly sweet.  It is an extremely pretty little thing, and as the stuff is in perfume concentration here, the tenacity of the scent is really pretty good.  This one will last on me for upwards of five hours, though it does not project very far.

Farmacia SSAnnunziata, which makes Fiore, is one of those apothecary brands the Italians seem to be so fond of, and as far as I can tell, the farmacia favors gourmands for women.  There are the usual almond and vanilla scents in this line, but this one, by reason of its rice note, manages to put a new spin on an old concept.  It reminds me of wedding trousseaus back in the day, with all the sheets laid out and pressed with homemade lace crocheted for the edges usually lightly starched.  That’s what Fiore di Riso reminds me of, those trousseaus, with the smell of starch and the white thick lace of which I have an example.

Imagine crocheting your own. Well, that’s the best mental image for this perfume, something sturdy, something interconnected, something slightly old fashioned – matrimony at a guess.

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