The first gourmand: Brillat-Savarin – an 18th Century chemist who knew you are what you eat (and smell!)

Long before ‘gourmand’ foodie-inspired fragrances were even dreamed of and while smell was still perceived as the poor cousin of our other senses, one 18th Century polymath was championing the exquisite pleasures that taste and smell bring to everyday life. And more than mere pleasure alone: in fact, he heralded the proper appreciation and scientific study of these long-foregranted senses…
‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’ So said Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755-1826, a French lawyer and politician whom, apart from law, studied chemistry and medicine, and eventually gained fame as an epicure and gastronome.
 

 
His seminal work Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), contains Savarin’s philosophies and observations on the pleasures of the food, which he very much considered a science – long before the birth of molecular gastronomy and serious studies of taste and smell had begun. And smell was very much at the forefront of the gastronomique experience, Savarin had worked out; exclaiming:
‘Smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose.’
Previously considered the least important of the senses – indeed, smell remains the least scientifically explored, though technology is making huge leaps in our understanding – Savarin proclaimed that,’The sense of smell, like a faithful counsellor, foretells its character.’
 

 
Published only two months before his death, the book has never been out of print and still proves inspirational to chefs and food-lovers to this day.
 

 
Preceding the remarkable leaps in knowledge high-tech equipment has allowed and revealing how entwined our sense of smell is to the taste and enjoyment of food, Savarin also observed how our noses protect us from eating potentially harmful substances, explaining ‘…for unknown foods, the nose acts always as a sentinal and cries: “Who goes there?”‘ while coming to the conclusion that a person’s character may be foretold in their taste and smell preferences… ‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’
We devoted an entire issue of our award-winning magazine The Scented Letter (now available in print, and with online subscriptions worldwide!) to taste and smell – as of course we are gourmand fans in ALL the senses. And so it is heartening to know that Brillat was on our side here, with this extremely useful advice we selflessly pledge to carry through life:
‘Those who have been too long at their labor, who have drunk too long at the cup of voluptuousness, who feel they have become temporarily inhumane, who are tormented by their families, who find life sad and love ephemeral… they should all eat chocolate and they will be comforted.’
Wise words, indeed. We plan to enjoy all the sweet temptations that come our way, in scent form and in chocolate. Talk about having your cake and wearing it, too!
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Softly (scented) does it: Bamford's Knitwear Wash is cashmere, bottled…

Fashion and fragrance go hand in [scented] glove, and with super models strutting their stuff on the catwalks of London Fashion Week, our thoughts turn the array of beautiful fabrics on display. Us being us, of course we want everything to smell fabulous – and our just-published Fashion & Fragrance edition of The Scented Letter magazine features an in-depth sniff into the secretive world of fabric conditoners and the perfumers who work on them.
But we didn’t want to stop there. Not everyone likes washing in a machine – particularly those luxuriously delicate hand-wash only fabrics that require a bit of tender loving care, and the sensorial delight of slipping them on is further heightened by the scent of the washing liquid ‘matching’ our perception of what the particular fabric should smell of. So what does wool smell like to you…?
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Fabric care products for hand washing clothes – particularly those aimed at the cashmere and silk market – tend on the whole to be far more delicately fragranced. Indeed, you may have seen ‘cashmere’ listed as a note in many perfumes. But what does it smell of? The untreated wool alone is certainly not what we may dream of when imagining burying our faces in kitten-soft materials, and in fine perfumery each perfumer may compose their own interpretation within an accord to create the smell of fluffy luxury.
Within this market, organic and natural brands thrive, with many highlighting the purity of their products and selling them alongside their body and skincare lines. The organic brand Bamford sell beauty products along with knitwear and cotton clothing, and we asked why they decided to develop their own knitwear wash, soothingly fragranced with cedar extract (which really does smell as you imagine cashmere should!)
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As Merchandise Director Karen Leck explained: ‘It encourages you to wash knitwear by hand, which is the very best way to care for it. We chose not to use a strongly scented wash as they can be too overpowering and fragrance is very personal. Knitwear is an emotional purchase, it’s our best-selling category – most of us have a favourite sweater – they’re comforting as well as comfortable and the scent adds to the whole sensual experience of natural fibres against the skin. I also use a Bamford Pebble Soap in my knitwear drawers, as it gives just enough natural fragrance to personalise my sweaters.’
Bamford Knitwear Wash £15 for 350ml
See bamford.co.uk for stockists
Written by Suzy Nightingale

The Fragrance Foundation awards (aka ‘FiFis’) are tomorrow – and we can’t wait to be there!

We are thrilled to be attending ‘the Oscars of the perfume world’ tomorrow evening – The Fragrance Foundation Awards, aka the ‘FiFis’ – a prestigious ceremony in which the créme-de-la-créme of the fragrance world gather to celebrate and pay tribute to the very best newly emerging and already established brands out there.

Having won several Jasmine awards (had we mentioned?) this year for the our Scented Letter Magazine, we were kindly invited by The Fragrance Foundation to sit on the judging panel alongside other winners for two of the categories in 2016’s FiFi Awards, and the finalists who will nervously be await their fate are as follows…

Best New Independent Fragrance:

Coeur de Noir – BeauFort London

India – The Perfume Garden

Maxed Out – 4160 Tuesdays

Midnight in the Palace Garden – 4160 Tuesdays

Salome – Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Tea Tonique – Miller Harris

 

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Perfume Extraordinaire:

Floriental – Comme Des Garcons

Parfums de la Nuit No.1 – Roja Parfums

Royal Leather – By Kilian

Sable d’Or – Armani Privé

Salome – Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi – By Kilian

With so many incredible perfume houses up for awards in all manner of categories tomorrow evening, it makes you realise what a vibrant and exciting industry this really is – and how many incredible brands there are yet to explore. Indeed, we must admit it makes us glow with pride to be part of it all…

 Written by Suzy Nightingale