Thursday, October 1, 2009

In the Raw: Gourmand

For over a year now I have been contemplating starting this new blogging series. It is called "In the Raw" and will delve into specific materials within the palette of a natural botanical perfume artist. I am thus debuting it today with the spotlight on the gourmand/edible scent family.

With over ten million scent receptors in our noses we have the ability to identify upwards of thousands of different aromas. Understanding what we are perceiving in a scent helps us to classify a note or perfume into a specific odour family. The main odour families are: floral,woody, animalic, balsamic, vegetative, herbaceous, agrestic, green, spice, coniferous, marine, minty, medicated and fruity. The odour classification gourmand or edible are fairly new terms in the linguistics of aromatic families. In the past gourmand scents were put into a miscellaneous category. A gourmand perfume implies that there is a predominant foodie note in the fragrance, not to be confused with fruity, which is a subclass of the citrus family. Odours typical of the gourmand family are generally found in the primary category of spice, herbal, fruity, or vegetative. For example, below is a short list of a few materials from the palette of a botanical perfumer that are considered to contain gourmand qualities, but, are classified in one or two of the main categories first.
  • Basil: Spice / Herbaceous
  • Black Currant: Fruity
  • Celery: Spice
  • Chamomile: Fruity / Herbaceous
  • Coriander: Spice / Herbaceous
  • Fennel: Herbaceous
  • Ginger: Spice
  • Grapefruit: Citrus / Fruity
  • Mushroom: Fungal/Vegetative
  • Pepper: Spice
  • Saffron: Spice
  • Sage: Herbaceous
  • Spearmint: Minty
  • Vanilla: Balsamic
The notes that do not fit into those main compartments and are in need their own separate category, which is termed gourmand or edible. For example:
  • Artichoke
  • Bitter Almond
  • Burnt
  • Butter
  • Caramel
  • Chocolate
  • Coconut
  • Coffee
  • Cognac
  • Garlic
  • Hazelnut
  • Honey
  • Tea
  • Wheat
These aromatics are generally warm and seductive. I generally am not a fan of over the top gourmand fragrances, however, I do appreciate the genre and have caressed it a just a bit with Sierra Solid Gold and the fragrance devoted to peace which both feature gourmand notes.

The holiday season feels especially fitting for gourmand fragrances since the focus is on feasting. This genre has a rather wide spectrum and can encompass a very sweet vanilla perfume which makes one smell like a dessert, to a warm spice, to a completely avant-garde herbaceous garlic aroma. That last one is a little out there, I know, but why not? The art of perfume is an art after all and I am a believer in pushing the visionary envelope and getting out of the ordinary. Albeit I won't be going out in the world smelling like a cake or a salad dressing. Although, I have had some people interpret the aroma of ylang ylang as bubblegum. (!?!) My particular interest lies more in the fragrances of the land, forest and fairy realms.


Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

i love this Roxana!!!! For me the connection between fragrances I love and my stomach are completely tangible!!!!!

Illuminated Perfume said...

Gotta love tangibility!