I’m a native of British Guyana (now just Guyana), South America and grew up with spices. Curry, black pepper, hot peppers, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, we used it all and more. Spices were an integral part of our food, our drinks and our moments of celebration. Spices even permeated our clothing both from cooking and in our sweat and as new immigrants it created what seemed like an ocean between “us” and “Canadians” that had been living there for generations . In the beginning, even more than our skin colour, smell separated “us” from “them” until we started eating more of the same food and smelling more or less the same.
Hmmm, I think I need to write more about this so I’ll save it for another time. My own experiences with this phenomenon is a topic definitely worth exploring.
For me spice means home, celebration, closeness, fun! So of course it was a joy to explore this family of odours in greater detail and from a different perspective other than the culinary.
Black Pepper: this opens with a punch, windy, sharp and cool. It’s also clear, exciting, it gives me the impression of a splash of cold water on the face in the morning, take a plunge on a hot day, mom’s cooking, dry, quickening, speed, gives me a sense of height. Whoa! That’s a mouthful!. The dry down is fleeting, it’s almost gone after 6 hours, very dry now, something in common with tobacco? Volatility: high.
Cinnamon Leaf: candies, piercing, happy, light, red, playful. It’s a colourful note with lots of joy and warmth but at the same time it’s light, there’s a quickness to this one too, like a fast flowing river, active, dancing. The dry down is beautiful, still warm, sweet, shares things in common with clove, I can pick out the Eugenol, spice, with woody edge to it, the character is still integral even after 6 hours. Volatility: mid-low.
Clove Bud: sweet, soft, familiar, uplifting. Bursting, exciting and enchanting. It’s warm like a winter blanket, a soft rain in the fall, it’s surrender. The dry down is still sweet, warm, woody, spicy of course, like a familiar room in the home, the kitchen, it’s like coming home, family, belonging, acceptance. Volatility: mid-low.
Nutmeg: similar to black pepper but more, more something, just can’t narrow it down. It’s like my mind is having a hard time making connections with this one. I get baking cakes, images of a forest. It’s a very persuasive note, bold, but soft at the same time, with a golden glow, the colour of liquid gold comes to mind. After 6 hours it dries down to a woody, coconutty(?) smell. It is almost gone at this point, but still more present than black pepper and drier. Volatility: mid-high.
Wow. Who knew the spice family had all that wrapped up in it and more! More and more I’m discovering that you can’t say, “yeah, yeah, I know that smell”, and dismiss it as commonplace. No matter how many times you’ve approached it consciously in the past. Each time must be, will be, new. There will always be new facets revealed based on the level of awareness of the perceiver.
I love this craft.
Have a great weekend!