Asafoetida comes from the dried taproot of Ferula asafoetida – note the word ‘foetid’ in the name, because it really does honk:  strong and sulphurous, it’s known variously as ‘devil’s dung’, ‘stinking dung’, or (charmingly) in French, ‘merde de diable’ (devil’s poo).

It’s used in Indian cooking and also as a  medicinal – not surprisingly, as a repellent.  (It’s also, rather usefully, anti-microbial and anti-flatulant – though not in perfume!).  Some people say it smells of onions or leeks;  others, that it has a balsamy, resinous or even sweaty edge – but as with so many botanical ingredients, asafoetida can work magic when skilfully blended in perfumes:  the teeniest of quantities acts as an ‘accenter’, to boost the power of other ingredients – including galbanum, which is widely-used in chypre scents, including Ma Griffe by Carven, and Pierre Balmain’s Vent Vert.

Smell asafoetida in:

L’Artisan Perfumer Premier

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