The Unexpected Scent of Tulips

Tulip1Tulips are impossible to resist.  Certainly it was beyond me when I found a large escaped clump of bright scarlet tulips blooming in an out of the way corner of the lot, obviously former garden bed detainees who had decided on a prison break.  Out came the secateurs, and now I have a bouquet sitting on my breakfast table, drooping ever so slightly – well, okay, quite a bit – as tulips do after a first day in water.

The revelation is their smell.  They are large late tulips, which we used to call May tulips, with a correspondingly big scent: their smell is initially green with the freshness of ozone in it, then floral, a daffodil like scent with something powdery about it, presumably the pollen on those black pistils, and the base is honey, very warm and very golden, with a very faint component of dirty musk drowned in its sticky depths.  It is a perfume complete in itself, and most unfortunately, I cannot think of any fragrance on the market that really tries to replicate it. Continue reading

Keepers

keeperaThe world of perfume blogging dearly loves a list.  Who knows why we are so very fond of these sequential processions of names and titles, but I do know that nobody who loves perfume can resist them.  I thought it was time to compose a list of the best of the last ten years, a list of the perfumes that have struck me as lasting presences on the scene, keepers, potential classics, if you like.

A list like that should have kept me deliberating for days, but actually only kept me busy for one afternoon. Why?  Well, despite the enormous numbers of releases these days, not much really strikes me as all that durable.

So here is a list that includes perfumes I don’t necessarily like myself, but which I think are classics or potential classics in the making. Just because I don’t care for it personally, doesn’t mean it isn’t in the running. Continue reading

Twelve Smells of Christmas – Day Nine: Black with Fruit

My husband has an uncle who insists that fruitcake is a very civilized pleasure and the best way to go about eating it is in the evening along with a glass of sherry.  He’s probably right about that. (He tends to be right about everything else.)  I expect most of us could get through fruitcake with a good sherry, although I’m not sayin’ how much sherry it might take to get it down.

Are there a lot of good fruitcake recipes out there?  Do people really eat it?  I used to wonder as a child because half the ladies of my father’s parish would try their hands at fruitcake and as children, we always felt that the essential business of prizing the green cherries and candied orange peal out, left a sad, barely adequate scaffolding of cake behind, certainly not enough to satisfy us, although the ladies had poured a lot of expensive ingredients in there.

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Music for Mosquitoes

Some perfumes are simply aimed at a very high note on the scale of smell.  They are in the citrus, aldehyde, or floral ranges, nothing else can stretch that far.  I mean, even standing on its tippy-tip toes, an oriental or a chypre just can’t reach that nose-bleeding altitude.

It is an odd concept, but I remember having a recent conversation with my sister about this, and her take was that some perfumes just buzzed in her head, they were so shrill. She named some Chanels in particular.

From her description I was pretty sure that her problem was chiefly with aldehydes.  She couldn’t abide Chanel No5, for instance, and also hated No22 for the same reason. Continue reading