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

Celebrating the enduring links between perfume and couture: The Scented Letter Fashion & Fragrance Autumn 2016 is launched

The Scented Letter is one of the key VIP Subscriber benefits when you belong to The Perfume Society: a fabulous, award-winning downloadable magazine (also available in print) which keeps your finger on the pulse-point of all that’s happening in the scent world. (Have a sneak peek below.)
If you’re a VIP Subscriber, make sure you’re logged in and then click here to read our latest edition – which is 48 pages of pure style. (Not a Subscriber? Sign up here.) In this edition, our Jasmine Award-winning team covers the following…
• In The Magnificent 7Jo Fairley has an audience in Grasse with Jacques Cavallier-Belltrud, creator of the new Louis Vuitton perfume collection
• Chypre Thrills is Suzy Nightingale‘s celebration of ‘bottled chic’, as this fragrance family enjoys a renaissance
• Designer Carolina Herrera de Baez shares her touchstone scents in Memories, Dreams, Reflections
• Find out how perfumers are putting the ‘fab’ in fabric conditioner in The Scented Sweater
• So-fashionable florist and event designer Tony Marklew opens his scent closet in #ShareMyStash
• Read about all the Latest Launches (for men and women!) – and much, much more…
It’s priced £10 to our VIP Subscribers (join us here), £12.50 to everyone else – and remember: you can now also buy an annual print subscription to The Scented Letterhere
Need further convincing? To read a mini ‘taster’ edition, click here.
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Lust object alert: these ‘perfume’ bookshelves just shot to the top of our ‘If we won the Lottery’ splurge-list

How people actually store their fragrance collections is of infinite interest to us. As regular readers of our online/print magazine The Scented Letter know well, one of our very favourite things to do is snoop around people’s perfume collections, and we love revealing people’s storage secrets in the #ShareMyStash feature. (You can see an example – featuring 4160 Tuesdays perfume Sarah McCartney – below.)

We’d certainly love to walk into an interviewee’s house and encounter these. Because given an infinite budget, they’re what we’d choose: a set of matte-painted metal shelves (actually available in black, white, yellow, two different greys, powder pink – you name it, really).

By Gino Carollo for Bonaldo, they come individually and are priced around £670-720 each (so no, we’re not really expecting many of you to dash out and scoop these up) – but we think they look best as a ‘collection’ (and definitely against a white wall, shown here).

For now, we’ll make do with the bookcase scooped up in Hastings Old Town for fifteen quid and given a lick of Seal Dawn paint (which can make even the ugliest piece of furniture beautiful).

After all, at the end of the day, it’s the bottles – and the glories within – which really matter, after all.

Perfume Bottle Bookcases £620-720
Buy them at Panik Design

By Jo Fairley

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Our VIP Subscribers love The Scented Letter – so here’s a preview, for you.

The Scented Letter, so we’re often told, is one of the key reasons why our VIP Subscribers love being a part of what we’re doing.

As a little ‘taster’ of what you can expect – normally our editions are 50+ pages – we’ve put together a ‘digest’ from some previous editions for your enjoyment. Read it here – and depending which browser you use, you should also be able to download it. (Please be patient: it’s a lavishly big file!)

Appearing around every six weeks as an e-zine (downloadable as a .pdf to your device, or viewable in ‘flickable’ format on the site itself), this is one of just a handful of fragrance magazines in the world. We have incredible behind-the-scenes access to perfumers, to the ‘faces’ chosen to represent scents, and to beautiful visual imagery to bring each edition alive.

We also commission articles from leading, award-winning writers whose evocative stories open up the world of scent and aroma to our readers.

It’s one of many VIP Subscriber benefits when you belong to The Perfume Society – and if you’d like to sign up and receive your copies, you can do so here.

In the current edition of The Scented Letter, meanwhile, you’ll find:

  • When Rosie Met Ralf – follow Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s fragrance journey – from London to Grasse via Manhattan – to create her signature scent.
  • Sex & Scents – our Senior Writer Suzy Nightingale explores: why does perfume turn us on? Do pheromones exist? And what are the sexiest aromas on the planet…?
  • Jeremy Scott’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections – the Moschino designer (creator of the much talked-about TOY fragrance) follows his perfumed trail from farm-boy to fashionista.
  • The Smell of Love is… Gravy – what happens when a fragrance blogger loses her sense of smell? One woman’s deeply moving account.

We also cover all the Latest Launches – so you have your finger on the pulse-point of all the latest fragrances – share news of our many VIP Subscriber events, and much, much more…

Once again, join us here – and enjoy the magazine that fragrance-lovers are talking (and Tweeting) about…
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There are roses, roses everywhere in our second issue of The Scented Letter, for subscribers

It’s out! And to quote perfume blogger and expert Nick Glbert, it’s ‘fabulous’… As Nick says, ‘The Scented Letter features every important new launch, as well as some wonderful pieces from bloggers, journalists and people involved in perfumery or scent. In the second issue, you can…

All our VIP Subscribers should have received a link to download their second issue of The Scented Letter. (And new subscribers are sent the link to download the e-zine, on signing up – click here to do that.)

In your second edition, subscribers can look forward to the following…

Follow the story of one of perfume’s most precious ingredients, the rose, from field to flacon

  • Discover award-winning blogger and author Persolaise‘s top rose perfume picks
  • Read the fascinating story of how Sabine de Tscharner grew up not being able to smell – and went on to become a perfumer
  • Find ways to scent a wedding – and discover your perfect wedding scent
  • Discover all the season’s latest launches, at-a-glance
  • Enjoy Richard E. Grant‘s scent memories, dreams and reflections: the scents that have meant most to him, in a lifetime…

PS  International visitors to the site can subscribe to The Scented Letter for £15 p.a., using the contact form below – and we’ll then send you a Paypal invoice. (And yes, we’re working on finding a more sophisticated way to do this!)