A few weeks ago whilst doing some research on the many things within the perfume industry, I happend to come across the twitter-feed for Michelle Krell Kydd, author and fragrance consultant. She writes a very intricate blog, GlassPetalSmoke and writes not only about the olfactory but the gustatory. Her twitter-feed is a great resource and back catalogue for articles and news stories related to these two fields.
She hosts a Sensory Questionnaire on her blog and I’ve answered a few of these questions here:
Name/Country of Origin/Profession:
Liam Moore. Northern Ireland. Web Designer.
1.What does your sense of smell mean to you?
I can assure you it means everything. Smell has made me smile with deep content. It has reduced me to tears and in-between, left me in awe.
2.What are some of your strongest scent memories?
The smell of home. It’s like a giant magnet. Some days I’ll get on without thinking about it, then, all of a sudden the smell of toast in work will take me back to being 12 years old. Or, the smell of cleaning products and bleach combined remind me of Saturday afternoons and my mum cleaning our house. Sometimes, it can just be the smell of cut grass and long summer days.
3.What are some of your favorite smells (things in nature, cooking &/or your environment)?
I don’t think I have enough time to write these down. At the moment I’m a little obsessed with these hedges near where I live. They change so frequently. Some days they’re lush, and green and bursting with spring energy. Other days they’re sweet and soft. One day they smelled of fish. There’s a yellowy thorny bush that grows among them and I think it is my favourite smell at the moment. It makes me smile and think of the colour yellow.
When I cook, nothing beats fried garlic. Instant satisfaction. When its gently sizzling away it makes me anticipate my food which is something I forgot to do for a long time. To savour those smells. Then I add in chorizo, onions, food that packs a punch! Other times, I love the smell of avocado and poached egg. Together they make an eggy mix that’s really nice if you’re hungry but not feeling too well.
4.Do you have any favorite smells that are considered strange?
I love the smell of a just-lit match. The sulphur and smoke is so nice. I can’t explain why!
5.Describe one or more of your favorite cooking smells.
Oops, I think I already did. I can expand. I also like the smell of salt and vinegar as it hits really hot chips. When the vinegar gets right between my jawbone and it makes it hurt almost a little and my mouth fills with saliva. I like food that has an effect. Oh and basmati rice. So comforting.
I also like the smell of a Sunday roast at around 10am. When it’s just been put on and the smells aren’t cooked or raw either, but this middle ground where it smells tasty and a little rank.
6.What smells do you most dislike?
Nothing pisses me off more than cigarettes. This has deep roots and is not just on the surface. I grew up in my family (four of us) as the only non-smoker. Still am, and for a while, even in my extended family I was the only non-smoker. That’s changed a little between some of my cousins! But the worst smell I remember is being stuck in a car aged around 14 and my uncle and his pipe, my aunt, and my two cousins all lighting up. The car roof was yellow with tar. The windows were steamy. It was raining. It was a beige, grey day. The smell was acrid, horrid and I was so annoyed at everyone! I could smell the fabric of the car, reeking of stale smoke. Horrible.
7.What smell did you first dislike, but learned to love?
Cooking fish actually. I disliked all fish when I was younger and was actually quite phobic to try it. I always thought it would make me sick. My mum liked to cook haddock or plaice and I learned to like it over time. I now love the fishiest fishy smoked mackerel.
8.What mundane smells inspire you?
Fresh air. It has to be the most mundane of all smells surely? It’s everywhere (hopefully depending you don’t live behind the exhaust of a car) but it can change so much. One minute it can be the most refreshing, stimulating this-is-exactly-what-I-needed odours to being just that thing we breath in and sometimes forget to register. Something that common and diverse has to be inspiring.
9.What scent never fails to take you back in time and why?
Oh dear. This is a tough one. It really does have to depend on what mood I’m in. If I’m feeling particularly nostalgic or sad one day, smell can be incredibly powerful to me. One day I was in a bit of a day dream about far away places and as I stepped off the public transport and could smell the fresh air, I was lifted (I swear on some level) literally off the street and right to the mountains of Tibet, on a grassland where I stood gazing up at a sight I never thought I’d see. Where I was standing in a cloud and grassy meadow rolled out behind me the air here was like heaven.
10.What scents do you associate with memories of loved ones?
Their personal odour. Not that body odour, whiffy onion smell! But the smell of someone’s scalp or the smell they leave on their pillow. The two can be so different yet so the same. One is like a faded copy of the other but just a lovely. And their clothes too I’d say. Having recently lost my mum, burying myself in her clothes was the hardest thing to smell. The smell of the kitchen cupboards in my home, the jars and spills so unassumingly evocative of a time when I was younger with her was another smell having recently experienced I think I’ll associate with her.
11.What fragrance(s) remind you of growing up?
One day recently I was sitting waiting for my friend at a petrol station and the smell of the fumes set off a chain reaction in my head: Ice-creams, sweets and fizzy drinks, Nintendo 64 and sniffing the cartridge when it got too hot. Being 13 years old, videos on a Saturday night and the smell of the plastic VHS from the shop, the popcorn there, and all the Chinese food I’d eat with my friends or sister. The smell of the town where I grew up on a Saturday evening, of the food and the pubs and summer heat, and the car fumes… there it is. That’s why I was reminded of all that!
12.What fragrance(s) remind you of the places you visited on vacation?
It’s a lot of the time food, for obvious reasons. But I’d also go as far to say the fresh air again. In my blog I wrote about how fresh air is obviously different the world over. But a couple of days later it really hit me. If the air where I live now is slightly humid, I’m taken to China. If it’s hot and there’s a city smell about it, I’m taken to America. If it’s really cold and maybe if there’s snow, I’m taken to the Arctic Circle and Sweden.
Fragrances don’t necessarily conjure up images of holidays for me though. One does manage to remind me of a romantic time I spent in Rome. The first place I’d say I properly splashed out on an expensive bottle of juice. And any time I smell Eau De Pierlot I’m taken right back to the orange groves on Palatine Hill and a time when I was really happy.
13.Describe a piece of sensory literature that is very magical for you.
Perfume by Patrick Suskind. A maybe obvious choice, but I was encouraged by a lady to read it. I like to think she seen a passion within me and knew that book would encourage it.