Twelve Smells of Christmas, Day Eleven: Ghosts of Chocolate Past

Daughter Allen, age seven, marks out the Chocolate Drawer

Most people like chocolate, but in my family chocolate approaches the status of a religion.  No matter where we are, we always have something in the kitchen known as the “chocolate drawer” where we keep the chocolate.  My mother-in-law never travels without “emergency chocolate”, which means rations for those desolate parts of the planet where chocolate is thin on the ground. My other in-laws practically need IV chocolate for birthdays, parties, weddings and, of course, Christmas.

Or as my daughter puts it, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the chocolate (by which she means expensive Belgian chocolate).  In short, we should probably all go into Chocolate rehab, and probably would enter chocolate withdrawal if we did.

Sometimes though, when I am trying to keep control of my dress size , I indulge in olfactory chocolate rather than the real thing.  This is a particularly good strategy at Christmas.  I really ought not to go back for more than one slice of flourless chocolate cake, two brownies do not taste better than one, and so on and so forth, but I can make the situation better for myself, if I wear my chocolate instead of eating it.

Now I’m aware that there are people for whom the gourmand perfume is not an option. My mother used to hate the idea of “smelling of food”, and other folks find that instead of helping them hold the line, it encourages snacking, and what is called (in my family) “sniggling” which means a thin little tiny teeny slice of chocolate cake that no one else could possibly see, or therefore it follows, miss. (The demarcater is the icing on top- avoid that and all is fair.  This can lead to an inverted pyramid of cake and icing.)   So if you snack or sniggle based on how you smell, this strategy is not for you.

However, you can sort of fool yourself into thinking you have pigged out when in fact you haven’t, by using a gourmand perfume. Only make your selection carefully. No Demeter Devils Food because that really will propel you back into the kitchen (in my experience, and trust me I have a lot of experience with over eating chocolate).  Hilde Solianis will work, or a number of Parfumerie Generales,  and just about any one of the By Killians.

On the other hand if you wear something like Chanel’s Coromandel, you have strayed too far from the Gourmand into Oriental territory, which reminds you that you’re hungry, and, like Christmas, the chocolate Fiddle Faddle is always right around the corner. When it comes to the Gourmand the middle ground is the way to go, nothing so obvious as to be a food cue, and nothing so unfoody as to remind you about your stomach. You’re trying to mimic the “been cooking all afternoon and wouldn’t eat that stuff on a bet now” sensation.

So what makes you feel happily full, and not endlessly cruising for another coco hit? (By the way, if you have suggestions here, excellent! I can use more for this list- if you know what I mean).

First of all Dawn Spencer Hurwitz used to make a brilliant chocolate/wood accord that I loved and wore to death, and which is no longer available! I think it was called Bois de Chocolat but that, simple as it was, fit the bill perfectly.  As it’s no longer available, another suggestion is Sarah Jessica Parker’s Covet.  I can hear the screaming, so please, let me point out that this was a really interesting idea in the first place, and like Kate Walsh’s Boyfriend, actually pleased a large number of people.

Covet is a bit odd, it’s a chocolate fougere, and that makes it a really weird perfume for starters, and secondly it is a fougere aimed at women, which makes it even weirder, since female fougeres have been missing in action since Maja. This one, despite its odd top notes, is an arresting fragrance.  You can smell how Lolita Lempicka made a perfume like Covet possible, but Covet is still a fougere rather than an Oriental to my nose.  It’s discontinued, really inexpensive and really interesting.  Covet is also, needless to say, perfect on men too. Its fault is that it may be just too synthetic for some people, but for others Covet is indeed covetable.

My other selection goes back to Dawn Spencer, who does chocolate notes very well.  I like her Mole sauce of a scent Piment et Chocolate.  You really smell the peppers in this one, chili peppers, dried ones, they smell delicious but not too decadent, and the effect is to make the scent one oddball of a gourmand.

There are others as well, Arquiste’s Anima Dulcis, but that is largely an incense scent, Van Cleef and Arpels Orchidee Vanille which is a vanilla fragrance really with a chocolate dry-down, and Montale’s Chocolate Greedy, but that one has been described as smelling like chocolate pudding which makes me suspect it is too literal.

What keeps you out of your chocolate drawer during the holidays?  I know someone out there has one besides us.

Which reminds me, stocks are running low….

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8 Responses to Twelve Smells of Christmas, Day Eleven: Ghosts of Chocolate Past

  1. Janet V. says:

    Nice move, posting the photo of Guylian seashells….I would have used the one of your daughter’s kindergarten label for the “choklit dror”

    Merry Christmas!

    Janet V.

  2. Undina says:

    Nothing could stand between me and my dark chocolate! But I really like the opening chocolate note in Angel Taste of Fragrance.

    Other than that, I prefer to smell chocolate as I eat it – not wear.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Well ditto on the chocolate (obviously!) and I keep hearing good things about the new series put out by the Mugler people. Les Cuirs for instance, and now this one, so I must overcome my Mugler phobias. Alien is such a hit perfume where I live-the Malls reek of it- that I’ve gone off the Muglers slightly. But I will get back to them. TM will have become a perfume house the size of Chanel before I know it, and there’s no ignoring it.

  3. mals86 says:

    Chocolate in perfume makes me queasy and irritable, having sort of the opposite effect that chocolate in the mouth does. The surest bet to make me run away is fragrance with notes of lavender, tolu balsam and/or chocolate.

    But the stockings will all be stuffed with various chocolate sweeties – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for The CEO, M&Ms for Taz, Snickers for Gaze, and Bookworm will join me in Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Hazelnuts.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Does seem to go that people either like the chocolate note in perfume or really, really don’t. However the sneakiest sneaking of a chocolate note past me was definitely N’Aimais Que Moi. That one fooled me. I thought it was mostly violets and oakmoss and maybe a rose or two but chocolate? Well chuff me, but it was there in the notes. Very pretty too.

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