Winner of the 2016 Perfumed Plume Award
The “Alice Waters of American natural perfume” (indieperfume.com) celebrates our most potent sense, through five rock stars of the fragrant world.
Look out for Mandy Aftel's new book, The Art of Flavor, on sale in August!
Mandy Aftel is widely acclaimed as a trailblazer in natural perfumery. Over two decades of sourcing the finest aromatic ingredients from all over the world and creating artisanal fragrances, she has been an evangelist for the transformative power of scent. In Fragrant, through five major players in the epic of aroma, she explores the profound connection between our sense of smell and the appetites that move us, give us pleasure, make us fully alive. Cinnamon, queen of the Spice Route, touches our hunger for the unknown, the exotic, the luxurious. Mint, homegrown the world over, speaks to our affinity for the familiar, the native, the authentic. Frankincense, an ancient incense ingredient, taps into our longing for transcendence, while ambergris embodies our unquenchable curiosity. And exquisite jasmine exemplifies our yearning for beauty, both evanescent and enduring.
In addition to providing a riveting initiation into the history, natural history, and philosophy of scent, Fragrant imparts the essentials of scent literacy and includes recipes for easy-to-make fragrances and edible, drinkable, and useful concoctions that reveal the imaginative possibilities of creating with—and reveling in—aroma. Vintage line drawings make for a volume that will be a treasured gift as well as a great read.
In this sensuous and profound exploration of the history, science, and art of perfume, expert perfumer Aftel (Essence and Alchemy) seduces readers with an sensualism that only intensifies as her stories unfold. "The nose is idiosyncratically central not only to our sense of smell but to our sense of who we are, in our most primal appetites," she writes. "For the idea of appetite pertains to... all the sensual and spiritual experiences that drive us, give us pleasure, make us feel more alive." Aftel uses five "rock stars of the aromatic world" to acclimate readers to the world of scent: cinnamon for the exotic; mint for the homely arts of cooking, healing, and hospitality; frankincense for the transcendent; ambergris for the strange, wondrous, and animal; and jasmine for beauty and its inextricable bond with "beastliness." The book is peppered with fascinating trivia, such as the Chinese practices of telling time with burning incense or a cat's eyes. History and science are interspersed with recipes and tidbits (Deana Sidney's jasmine-ambergris-chocolate drink, a 1920s list of butterfly fragrances) that entice readers to wake up their noses and perhaps engage in their own scent alchemy. b&w illus. throughout.