lessons in perfumery 7


Of the many lessons in perfumery that are part of our never ending training I think this one is one of the most important, especially when one is self-taught: our life is our classroom – if we allow it, and we continue to learn about perfumery even after we finish evaluating or composing for the day, the boundaries are set much, much wider.

I get the sense that my formal perfume training is making me a better cook, (yes, I can almost here you saying, ‘no, duh!'”).  But honestly, it was not something I expected, not at all.

The other day I made an appetizer for dinner of octopus and potatoes (and no, LV is not undernourished), some tuna on the side, yummy bread from our favourite local baker and a luscious green salad.

What I began to notice was a growing confidence as I threw in a bay leaf (LV’s suggestion – I thought he was comatose in front of the tele but then he chimes in with that!), some lemon juice, a bit of salt from Cervia, potatoes, parsley of course and voilà! But the real surprise was this was all done with nary a taste of the spoon! I made a dish with my nose and instinct alone, something I would never had had the belief in myself to do before. A few days agoI had also managed a ravioli filling (brasato, lonza and mortadella) all without tasting it that even my mother and sister-in-law and LV (the official family taster) said was near perfection – oh, the goosebumps.

Wowwww. I stood there in wonder like a child on Christmas day, inwardly ogling my gift. This gift was nothing I could actually touch but it was precious just the same:  my success in the kitchen had brought me to a new level of awareness and application, confidence really, with my nose. One tiny step at a time I am becoming a perfumer, it was an awareness that descended upon me like a gentle spring rain, that I was beginning to trust and make use of the connection between my nose and my brain.

Let yourself be taught by everything around and within you. As a perfumer in training the only walls we encounter are those created in our mind when we fail to find words that adequately describe our olfactive experience in the moment. Therefore, to move beyond those restrictions it’s important to let life teach us all that we need to know about the olfactive arts.

With this I pose a Christmas challenge: over the holidays, try to see how many smells you can train your nose to remember that are specific to this particular holiday season then, in January let’s see how many we can actually remember!  Leave a comment if you want to join in.

With one more post coming before the new year, have a wonderful weekend!




4 thoughts on “lessons in perfumery 7

  1. Hi Maxine, I know we did all the have a beautiful Christmas and so on, but I just can’t resist commenting on this new post of yours… this is the real deal here, you’re speaking my language! I had to google the brasato and the lonza because contrary to some, i don’t live in Italia… haha! which is cool, and the ravioli recipe I totally get that it was yum, and slightly unorthodox…! but there’s an important secret to all creative work, that you are discovering with so much pleasure and gratitude: it pays to know the rules, and it also pays to just invent. And listen to your gut. Much more is possible than we initially believe. And the more things you try out, with some unsuccessful results at times, the closer you get to your own life, your soul if you like. the more aware you become of the harmonies, even unlikely ones…Now if that isn’t a Christmas thought…
    Hug across the Alps,
    PS how different is the Palo Santo flower from the wood oil? Didn’t you do a post on that a while ago? I’ll check


    1. Eline, hi! It’s always nice to hear from happy, joyful people so I’m glad you commented. We’ll actually be trying it this evening, I’m at 1,022 and yet another 500 to go for sure. You’re right about the rules, it’s always a pain to learn them, no one loves to practice, but they’re at the heart of mastery. Interesting thing is it’s much more challenging hearing, or interpreting your gut if you don’t have enough practice under your belt! Right again about the learning being a circle and that we eventually come back to our own lives. What a Christmas gift! Thanks for the hugs and sending some right back to you! P.S. I’ve got to get some palo santo the one from the wood to compare, but I don’t have any in my materials. Back in November I did a Tolu balsam profile. Perhaps that’s the one you may be remembering?


      1. hi there, always nice to hear back, too.. i remember, it was in relation to your tincture evaluation of the cepes tincture you made. we exchanged messages around october 16th this year, feels like a year ago..
        in my experience, palo santo is immensely strong and overwhelming. i’m fond of it but it’s got to be used in moderation, but then it can be very helpful. Nice to read about the flowers, I guess their oil is a lot milder, gentler and easier to get friendly with.
        when I leave the house for a whole day, I often take along a paper handkerchief with some nice formula, to keep in my pocket. Aromatherapy on the go 😉
        Tomorrow, solstice. And then after, Christmas and maybe some real winter time…


      2. Wow, what a memory! You’re right, I went back and checked and it was in regard to your cepes tincture and how your Palo santo was looking down on everything else :). Yes, Palo santo is very strong and can overwhelm a blend and it must be used wisely, that’s why I like to do my composing one drop at a time – drop, sniff, drop, sniff – sure it’s laborious but I don’t mind. A on the G! Nice :). Love back to you and enjoy!


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