Gourmand Perfume – Posse Scent Club

gourmand perfumeGourmand perfume – if you´d like to watch the fur fly, just stick a bunch of fragrance nuts in a room and describe something as “foody.” Descriptions of a particular fragrance as “gourmand” or “edible” can provoke heavy disagreement. If I smell Serge Lutens Santal Blanc and get a note vaguely like custard, and all you get are cedar shavings, you might think I´m nuts. You can have a fragrance with a dominant food note that isn’t foody. Fendi Theorema smells strongly of orange, for instance, but isn´t remotely gourmand. (Quick, someone – argue with me!)

Patty and I had fun coming up with the list of gourmand perfume for this post. Our first draft list was, frankly, nauseating. Some gourmand perfume is so sweet they make our teeth hurt. Eventually we wound up with a workable list, and then I waited until Patty was overwhelmed by her return from Paris and stuck her with the horrifying gave her the more interesting part of our list, which she´ll be covering tomorrow, and we love her for doing it!

The gourmand perfume we´re sniffing today –   L´Artisan Bois Farine; L´Artisan Fou d´Absinthe; and Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale.

L´Artisan Bois Farine (“wood flour”) has a wonderful story behind it involving homeslice Jean-Claude Ellena´s encounter with a rare flowering tree in the Reunion Islands, and its flower that smells like, well, flour (read the blurb on LuckyScent here.) Notes are white cedar, gaiacwood, sandalwood, white iris, farine flower, fennel seed. Bois Farine is one of those scents I want desperately to work for me – look at those notes! – but it often smells flat and bitter, almost like stale beer, so I borrowed some skin for this review. On a normal person, Bois Farine smells weirdly enchanting. The cedar was less pronounced on my defenseless children than it sometimes is; the farine flower and fennel smell like rising bread dough, and the floral notes add a deliciously odd counterpoint. On Diva it is breadier and smells peppery; on Enigma it is heartbreakingly, delicately sweet — I can almost feel the crunch of fennel seeds in my teeth, their sweet sugary flavor and scent reminiscent of (but milder than) aniseed. I’ve read a number of references to a smell like peanut butter, and I don’t get that at all. It is a flowery bread (or a bready flower.) I think of it as Santal Blanc’s younger, less difficult sister. It´s a gourmand perfume probably not for everyone, and that´s just dandy.

In contrast, Fou d´Absinthe is a tall, deliciously bitter quaff of a fragrance. With notes of absinthe, star anise, dry pine, cistus, angelica flower, blackcurrant buds, clove, ginger, nutmeg, patchouli, pepper, pine needles, fir balsam, Fou d´Absinthe is (so far as I can recall) the first of the recent spate of absinthe scents (which now includes Black Fig & Absinthe, Absolument Absinthe, and probably others.) This is a great time to be an absinthe fragrance, now that the long-banned beverage has recently been legalized for import to the U.S., spawning a mini-industry of absinthe theme parties and absinthe-related drinkware. I haven´t tasted absinthe, but its comparison to the anise-flavored drink ouzo has mostly killed off any interest … where were we? Oh, yeah – this is a great scent. It´s stronger than a lot of the L´Artisans, and falls I guess at the more “masculine” end of the spectrum, being absent any conspicuously sweet notes. After the flaming-alcohol opening, there´s half an hour or so of woods, pepper, and a faint musky note, and this phase, while not exactly hairy-chested, is something that definitely smells borrowed from the men´s aisle. Then it becomes more green and balsam-y, and after that I´d call it easily unisex. It´s the sort of cool, refreshing scent its notes imply. I am insanely grateful to get no anise.

Do I find it particularly “foody?” I can´t decide. It´s almost more … forest-y. Or garden-y. I think the woods render it too cologne-like to really conjure a gourmand concept for me. I love it, but I don´t want to drink it.

Finally, Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale provides me with an excellent crow-eating opportunity. First off – it smells like spiced vanilla, not fish, and I´m not researching the inspiration for that goofy name. Maybe my nose was off; the first few times I got vanilla (okay, a very nice vanilla) but none of the spice-fest everyone else was raving about. Then I threw more on and – wow! Really, really pretty. Notes are: citrus, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, Madagascan vanilla. The citrus serves not as some jarring lemon-y contrast note, but as an additional tart note in the spice mix. For me, Sushi Imperiale sparked my current mini-interest in vanilla scents (along with Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille). Sushi is a nice counter-demonstration to the general nastiness of Sephora´s gourmand perfume section with its fear-factor level of sweetness. Sushi doesn´t mow you down with a truckload of wood-pulp extracted vanillin (hey, where did you think it comes from?) It´s not dry, precisely, or smoky – but there´s a subtlety to it that´s hard to describe. Yeah, it´s a warm blanket of a comfort scent, but I could smell this on an Armani-suited, male trial lawyer and not burst out laughing. There´s something sort of honey/tobacco about its spiciness, making it closer in feel to Chergui or Esteban Sensuelle Russie than, say, a CSP vanilla. There´s also something sophisticated about it; maybe the simplicity of the scent? Sillage Monster Alert: is it just me, or does a little of this go a very long way?

So … let´s have a food fight. Do you consider “gourmand perfume” and “foody perfume” to be sort of synonymous, or are you one of those people who write “gourmand perfume but not really foody” and mean it? How foody do you consider these scents? Are you feeling the love for foody scents in general, or does the idea disgust you? Finally, should we take all the really, really sweet gourmand perfumes, no matter how elegantly done, and bury them in one of those underground nuclear-waste storage sites?

Next month´s Scent Club: Holiday Scents! For your olfactory delight I think we´ll be reviewing CB I Hate Perfume´s Winter 1972 and Gingerbread, Caron Nuit de Noel, Fendi Theorema, and Guerlain´s Aqua Allegoria Winter Delices.

86 Comments

  1. Yeah…No…I don’t consider gourmand to be foody. Foody to me is when someone asks if I’ve been baking cookies. Gourmand to me would be ….damn it. I don’t know. Maybe they are the same. Maybe Gourmand is just “Very Nicely Done Upscale Foody”
    and Foody is “I Just Ate Too Much Cotton Candy At The Fair And Threw It Up On The Tilt-A-Whirl Ride Foody”. Personally I can’t wear much vanilla as it turns into a mishmash of something on me. All primarily vanilla scents dry down to the same scent on me. So I avoid them as much as I avoid getting on the double ferris wheel. Although your description of Sushi Imperiale makes me want to give it a shot.

    • See, now that’s fascinating to me. (I feel like I need to run up there and rename this post “Gourmand.” Maybe I will.) My problem as a fragrance blogger is: I get tired of using the same words over and over. After the 50th time I use “gourmand” I start randomly substituting “foody” or “edible.” There’s no formal lexicon, you know? But then I draw these not-quite-logical distinctions — for instance, I tend to use “edible” for notes like chocolate and not anything else./:)

      I have smelled “I Threw Up Cotton Candy on the Tilt-A-Whirl” at Sephora! And I have your problem with vanilla. In a post in the next thing or two I’m layering vanillas with interest-raising scents.

  2. I dunno, gourmand to me means fruits or nuts- Louve, Rahat Loukoum and Aomassai are gourmand to me. I don’t count Orange as gourmand, unless it’s very sweet, like Rich Hippie’s marmalady one, Psychadelic?

    Those gaggy sweet ones aren’t foody, they’re foul. :d

  3. Gourmond/oriental = mixing spice with food notes, I think, is a fairly new concept…comfort scents. If you have a basic vanilla scent and a basic orange scent i.e. Fleur d’ Oranger you can layer perfumes that you have now (maybe in the perfume graveyard) and have a beautiful outcome. And YES – the really really sweet gourmond scents should be sent to the underground waste sites.

    • yes yes yes! I think the gourmand ones tend to lend themselves beautifully to layering projects.

      And check out sweetlife’s long, thoughtful post below on orientals.

  4. This is very timely for me, since I’ve been thinking about the food/fragrance thing from the other direction: I’m working up a series of posts on common fragrance notes that also appear in food — mostly in Middle Eastern food, where all those “Oriental” perfume ingredients originated (or were traded and revered).

    Do you (don’t you?) think the category of “Oriental” gave birth to the bastard stepchild “Gourmand”? Perfumers have always used food notes and ingredients, they were just more abstracted. And I do think its the abstraction that’s the key between the notes as they appear “orientals,” “gourmands” and “foody” perfume. We could think of it like this, maybe — Coco Chanel has a hint of chocolate in it, but its very abstract–a lush dark richness at the bottom with the amber–more a way to describe the quality of the fragrance than an actual note. Angel, the Mother of All Gourmands, smells like true chocolate, but the chocolate gets paired with patchouli, not something you’d really want to eat, and something that brings out the bitterness in the chocolate. Montale Chocolate Greedy (which I know Patty hates, but which I rather enjoy) strikes me as a true foody perfume. It’s recognizably chocolate from the weird cheap-candle synthetic top notes to a dry down that invites you to nibble your own arm that (and this is why I like it) somehow turns the corner back to gourmand — its so chocolate it becomes Chocolate — like a painting of chocolate.

    So, OK, maybe this is all just nonsense, but I offer it up to fuel the debate — it’s fun trying to create categories, in a maddening kind of way.

    By the way — I also think “foody” often implies “bad” or even “cheap” (as opposed to “inexpensive”)in which case the difference between it and “gourmand” is simply the difference between the concept done badly or done well. Thus all those heated arguments (“Don’t you say that about my baby!”)

    • Wow, what a thoughtful post, with a number of terrific points.

      1) You seem to be in the majority about “foody” (bad) vs. “gourmand” (good.) Maybe I WILL run up there and change the name of this post!

      2) Absolutely agree about orientals. Oddly (or not!/:) ) just yesterday I was having a conversation about the gray area between an oriental and a gourmand scent, and I like your “foody” distinction. Further, categorizing perfumes is HARD. As we were preparing this Gourmand scent club vs. last month (virtual reality) vs. next month (Holiday) it was interesting to see how many scents could be multiply categorized.

      3) Scents in middle eastern food — mmmmmmm. Some of my favorite fragrances. [-o<

      • Hey, Anthony makes a great additional point down there about “gourmand” implying dessert (as opposed to other kinds of food like…um…trying to think of a non-dessert food represented in perfume. Anyone? Spiced rice? Green tomatoes?)

        Thinking along those lines, I’d also add the abstraction is often about combining non-food notes (patchouli, woods, amber) with notes that are more (chocolate) or less (spices, citruses) dessert like.

        And also that Marina made the same points I did, oddly enough with the same perfumes, in a tenth of the space. What can I say, I’m both wordy and nerdy… :d :”>

        • I think I’m going with “gourmand” being more complex/abstract (and frequently preferable) and “foody” being straightforward single food (and kind of a criticism.)

  5. Love all three of these, but in spite of that fact I wouldn’t say I was a gourmand fan. FdA is more piney to me (not as in toilet cleaner piney though – more dew-dazzled, with other lovely stuff making it more fairy-tale than U-bend story); Bois Farine, when it works, is soft fennel blanket bliss; and SI – you’re right, sillage monster extraordinaire.

    And tomorrow – well, P is reviewing a deep and profound love, and two that make me shudder….

    • Giggling at your U-bend distinction — thanx! Gak, do you think P will actually re-smell Arabie, or will she just blog on it?<):) Bois Farine "when it works" -- does it turn on you as well? Nice to hear your confirmation about SI -- at one pt I did think, dang, I wouldn't want to spill *that* in the car...

    • Lee, I’ll be loving and shuddering with you. :d You have excellent taste.

  6. I’m not a great one with perfume nomenclature. I’ve been using “gourmand” and “foody” interchangeably, but I like sweetlife’s distinction.

    This month’s club exercise has taught me something about myself: I only like gourmand scents if they have a lot of spices in them, especially cinnamon. I love Sushi Imperiale; in fact, I wore it all day today. I am also very fond of one of tomorrow’s subjects (one that Patty detests). Bois Farine was rather blah, tending toward blech, on me. Fou d’Absinthe starts okay on me and has an interesting enough middle but it ends up smelling like just your average men’s cologne. The same thing happened on the DH, so it’s not just my weird skin.

    If you want to make yourself barf someday (perhaps because you’ve accidentally swallowed poison), smell Profumum Confetto. That’s my candidate for lowest level in the nuclear waste site.

    So next month the club is only sniffing five fragrances? Two are among my all-time favorites, so I’m excited.

    • In general I avoid the Profumums (ducks) although there are a couple I hear are nice. They seem to suffer from the same saccharine OD as Nez a Nez and some of the CSPs…>:p

      man, why won’t that litle guy stick his tongue out after I plug him in a comment? He’s hysterical. Maybe today’s my lucky day.

      Bois Farine, then, will be a difference between you and Louise — I’m sure she’ll check in, but it smells wonderful on her, and if I remember right it lasts a long time (you’d think it wouldn’t.) She can confirm how bad it can smell on me, although yesterday afternoon it was rather nice and bready.

  7. Cooks & food service types & people who go into raptures over truffled this & that often call ourselves (I’m outing myself, hi, my name is Divalano & I’m a recovering food service professional) “foodies”. The term to me connotes people who’d travel all over Chinatown with me for white cooked chicken or spend the day tasting cheese with me. So it’s hard for me to apply “foodie” to perfume, it just doesn’t go.
    For me, if a scent has a has food note I’d call it gourmand. And then I’d raise an eyebrow or two & sniff cautiously. Vanilla notes can comfort or seduce (Un Bois Vanille). Lemon is nice & so are undertones of all kinds of things … coconut, licorice, etc. And I like tea (Tea For Two). But I’d rather smell orange blossom than oranges & even tho I enjoy spice & pepper notes, Arabie goes too far into gourmand & brings me to a spice market. I want to cook it, not wear it. I adore food. I can talk about it for hours & eat with relish (no pun intended) but I don’t really want to smell like it, I smelled of food for yrs as a line cook & that was enough of that.

    • I know several FSPs in recovery! I never worked the line, but I love several people who have … I know a woman who worked in a bakery for several years and (in spite of the hours) considered it one of the highlights of her life. I miss food. I look forward to some future phase in my life when I can really get back into it, rather than eat as an afterthought. The closest I come is baking, or making a stew or soup from scratch, which really focuses me and makes me happy.

      Yeah, where is the spice-market line for Too Much? Sushi is not too much. Arabie is Too Much. Every now and again I try a spice-market scent (I just tried Memoire Liquide’s Souk Nocturne) and can’t decide how I feel about it, although it’s lovely.

      • I just re-tried Souk & it turns out that I really like it. It’s very comforting. When I tried it over the summer there was so much cinnamon that it went a bit too Dentyne for me & I thought it smelled boring & cheap. But in the cooler temps it was smoky & spicy & I sniffed myself all day. And that’s another thing … unlike the only other ML I like (Jasmine Tea) it lasts all day on me.

          • I sniffed Black Tea at the counter in Barney’s, can’t recall why I moved on. Is there bergamot in it? Some reason … I’ll revisit it next time I’m uptown.

        • Did I get the Souk sample from you? Darnit, I can’t remember!

          I feel like I could give that line a whole day’s worth of attention and unearth some other treasures.

      • I love these discussions and have spent half an hour puttering around thinking about gourmand v. foodie.

        Here’s what I’ve come up with, for me: both are edible, but “gourmand” is more than just a direct representation of a food.

        New Haarlem is gourmand because in addition to the coffee, there’s someone smoking in the background next to the lavender next to the front door. Bois Farine is gourmand because the food is in a warm kitchen, with wood floors and cabinets.

        “Foodie” is a diminutive of “food,” and those scents are less than the food and not more of a scent. They are a pile of one (or two) completely food-based notes. Big stack of vanilla with nothing else happening. Or the garbage can in the back of an Indian restaurant (sorry, Arabie!) at the end of a long night.

        As to the individual scents this round:
        FdA has some of the most fascinating and wonderful opening notes I’ve ever smelled. I really thought this might be it, my default winter scent. There are well-blended spices, there’s the perfect amount of winter wood, there are tiny varied bubbles of ginger and clove and pepper popping up at different times. I mostly wear masculine scents, so that part didn’t put me off. What puts me off (and breaks my heart) is that after an hour, it turns into gas station bathroom soap. The viscous pink stuff in the pump dispenser. Heartbreak.

        SI is balanced and effervescent and possibly the sweetest thing I’d ever consider wearing. It’s not a monster on me, nor do I get much vanilla.

        Bois Farine does give me peanut butter off the top, but not a jar of pb–it’s peanut butter brownie batter, unbaked. Reading that, I wouldn’t have guessed how much I like it. It’s so warm, the sort of fragrance I keep putting on an hour before I go to bed. I want my room to smell like that when it’s cold outside and I’m reading and my sweater is a little too bulky and the dog is asleep. The drydown is like being hugged by antique furniture. Definitely the winner for me this month (Rahat Loukhoum is a close second).

        • So, that’s a different way of looking at it — in terms of the complexity of the fragrance and the non-edible components, rather than nice vs. nasty…

          It’s nice to read some kinds words about FdA — I am sorry that it then goes so wrong on you, that’s a heartbreaker. And that’s a wonderful description of Bois Farine. It is the perfect bedtime scent, I agree.

  8. Oh March, I just can’t tell you how happy I am that you’ve come to feel the Sushi love! I love it so much that I want everyone to try and love it:d I’m also very fond of Bois Farine so perhaps I do like the gourmands. But they don’t really make me think of food, I just enjoy some of the “foody” notes. Chocolate Greedy now, that is just pure chocolate syrup on my skin. I can hardly escape the food connection there!

    Have you tried Lostmarc’h Lann-Ael? It’s one that I put into the same mental category as the Sushi.

    P.S. You are awesome!!!!^:)^

    • I need to try that Lostmarc’h, people keep bringing it up. Although if I ever review it I’ll have to hire someone to come type in the name correctly, I cannot get it right.

      I sniffed Chocolate Greedy at the sniffa. I was surprised to find that I liked it, sort of. Much more so than, say, chocolovers. It didn’t smell as sweet to me. But I can’t imagine wearing it.

  9. I think I’d have to echo Maria’s support of Sweetlife’s insightful distinction-it has to do with abstraction. Having said that, I like many both “abstract” and “concrete” foody/gourmand scents. I even keep a few sweet vanilly things around to wear at home (shhh). Baking cookies is a smell I love, I just don’t recreate it with my oven anymore (no more child at home). This month’s fragrance selection tends toward the abstract, and should inspire no fear in the foody-loathers.

    I’ve smelled Bois Farine on you, and it is criminal what you do to one of my top 5 (10?)winter scents. I get no nuts on me, just smooth woods, a little iris, fennel. Lucky me.

    I am glad you finally got the full Sushi experience-I adore the play of spice and non-sweet vanilla-but yup, it throws across the room, all day and into the night. I made the mistake of wearing too many sprays of it to a movie with a date, and never saw him again, nor of course the folks that quickly found new seats in the theater.

    Oh-and your new vanilla love-don’t forget your growing admiration of Shalimar and Spiriteuse Double-they’re divine on you! Foody-I think not, most def.

    I like FdA, but it is one scent that I don’t find really unisex-it seems pretty “guy” to me. I prefer Absolument much more, at least on me. More sparkles and zip, brighter and interesting.

    • Oops-I didn’t need my “doubled” mention of Spiriteuse as part of your vanilla discovery-you already did that! It does smell amazing on you!

    • Giggling at your Sushi experience. Hey, I hear men lurve the smell of vanilla!:@) I think he should have been climbing all over you.

      Bois Farine late yesterday afternoon on me was okay. My problem is, I don’t know which I’m going to get, and when it’s bad, it’s awful, as you smelled.:-&

      I can see getting some of that Absolument for the summer. The femme is a wonderful, cheerful scent, isn’t it!

  10. Joining in for the support of Sweetlife’s distinction. I’m afraid I use foody and “CSP like” almost interchangeably. I actually love some of the early CSPs, but they definitely seem to cater to the hardcore baked goods lovers.
    Don’t understand why I didn’t feel compelled to immediately own FdA. Must go dig out my sample this morning, but I can’t try it today till after my acupuncture appt. (he wants to sniff my skin for diagnostic purposes, so can’t have on scented products…sob!). Will have the FdA sample in my bag to try on immediately afterwards. Love Bois Farine – delicious fennel fest on my skin and wonderful for layering w/ a multitude of other scents.

    • As you can see, I went back in and changed the name from “foody” to “gourmand” — I’m so biased against the CSP line I doubt I could even smell one of them rationally. Someone would have to do a blind sampling for me.

      Fou’s pretty strong, definitely not for the doctor’s office. The responses so far seem pretty “meh” which surprised me.

      Yum — what do you layer Farine with?

    • I love your distinction! It seems like most other people use the term the way you do, so I’m going to do so as well.

      BTW I knew about the civet-poop coffee awhile back, there’s a fancy place you can go here and drink some, I think it’s $60 a cup or something. Just pondering it makes me laugh. Eewwwww.

      Speaking of gourmand and poor — I am now thinking I need some more of the Guerlain Double Vanille, and Louise reminded me it’s $2– for a bottle…:(

  11. I loooove Bois Farine – what an excellent choice! Fou d’Absinthe on the other hand is nasty with me. It is the only Artisan that does absolutely *nothing* for me. I just don’t get it. It smells generic and disappointing on my skin. Perhaps like you, I need to borrow some skin and see how it works on others 🙂

    • Well, you seem closer to the norm on Absinthe than I do, judging by the comments. And I love Farine too, I just wish it would behave more consistently on me.

  12. I’m having a blast here !
    Too funny…

    Bois Farine and I are very cosy; Fou D’Absinthe and I are NOT.
    The latter is not pretty on me- nor does SI seem to be- it feels very barbershoppy- in a bad way.
    Maybe I need to spritz, instead of dabbing my sample.
    Oh well- more for you !

    Abigail- I love your distinction !
    [ I don’t mind stuff squeezed out of a gland- but, there you are;
    two days ago, I was presented with civet tincture- to which I responded,
    “aaah ! [email protected]#y !”]
    Vanillas and I are way cool, as long as they don’t make me puke….

    • Well, tune in tomorrow, I am dying to see what Patty does with Arabie, Rahat and Iris Ganache…:-ss

      Nobody’s feeling the Absinthe love, it looks like. And the mind boggles at civet tincture, although I do have some idea of the smell.:)

    • Oh, Chaya, thanks for saying that about the SI — that’s what I get! A big blast of barbershop at the beginning (I blame the clove) that never quite goes away, though I do want to lover it so…

      • That’s what I get too – a big blast of barbershop – citrus/spice, but no clove. Amazing how skin chemistry changes it!

  13. Wow, this is tough. I agree with everyone to some degree and with no one to all degrees. Single note cheap is foody, usually table sugar sweet (makes me nauseas). Spiced complex is gourmand (makes me hungry) and poor! No fur flying though…..

    ….yet. I think I have lost my mind and/or have been seduced by the power of the ‘word’. Sushi. Here I go jumping off the ship, literally. Sushi Imperiale. I got some salty water on this one after about an hour. Tried it 3 times. Very distant but there. Thought it was maybe the soap I had used. So showered the next day with unscented and the same thing happened. Easterly wind off the ocean here in Miami? @-)

    • Hey, I’ll have to look for that saltwater note! I was so thrilled to get the spicefest I stopped paying attention to anything else.

  14. My lazy, minimalist not-well-thought out personal distinction is “foody” scents are yukky, “gourmand” scents are not. I get a ton of fennel enhanced peanut butter, or maybe tahini from the Bois Farine opening, then it dries down OK, and lasts for 1/2 hour or so. FdeA is pure Pine Sol on me, much to my sorrow…Lee’s U-bend found me! Ummm, so I guess that makes BF gourmand, and FDA foody. But neither of them smell like anything that should be eaten. oh, and I haven’t tried SI, although if it compares to Chergui, it’s probably worth a spritz. I’m a little wary of vanilla scents in general. And agree w/ you totally on oversweet stuff being contained ala nuclear waste!

    • Sybil — well, nobody else up there has chimed in to agree with my comparison to Chergui, and you probably know better than I do how much we overlap in terms of what we like. Historically, I am not a lover of vanilla, which often smells cheap and mildly sickening. I would not classify SI as a “vanilla” scent, although it’s a dominant note; in fact we had some debate as to whether we’d even call it gourmand. I think categorizing it as an Oriental would be a completely legit alternative, and if you like spicebox type scents, it might be a worthwhile sniff. I am remembering, though, that the first three times I tried it, all I could smell was a really nice vanilla and faint spices.:-?

      • The first time I sniffed SI (during the Summer)I just didn’t get it. It seemed sharp and sour. Just tried it again (thanks to you guys!!!) and am getting tart apple pie loaded with nutmeg and cinnamon – maybe granny smith apples – didn’t get to the drydown yet…..I would call it gourmond/oriental.

        • Joan, I think for those of us in seasonal climates, there are definitely times of year that bring out the best in a scent. Sushi in our summer isn’t something I even care to contemplate.:-“

  15. Gourmand and foody to me are two different things. Gourmand is abstractly edible, example – Angel. While foody is something I’d see myself actually consuming. Like Montale Chocolate Greedy. Gourmand to me is a superior category, compared to foody.

    • I like your more nuanced twist on the difference between the terms. You’re acknowledging your (personal) preference for the complexities of a gourmand scent, while not totally dissing something as “foody.”

  16. Love the scent club – I always learn so much! I think I now know what you mean by skin that eats vanilla. I get almost no vanilla from Sushi Imperiale – I get spices and citrus, no vanilla anywhere, even after 3 different dabs on different days. Perhaps that is why I can handle the new Guerlain vanilla? Maybe also why I like Profumum Ambre Aurea – spicy, not sweet, on my skin!

    From Bois Farine, I get almost no fennel – just the smell of bread, and it’s just too much on my skin. With Fou d’Absinthe, I get almost no anise but some nice pine.

    I agree with sweetlife – oriental is more abstract and gourmand is a true and definite note. Foody doesn’t necessarily have to be badly done, just that the note is totally dominant, with nothing else there. Example – Serge Lutens’ A La Nuit. On my skin this is total, 100% jasmine tea, exactly what I smell when I open my tin of jasmine tea, which I love. Foody? Yes. Bad? Not at all – it’s a gorgeous and beautiful jasmine. But I don’t want to smell like a tin of jasmine tea, even if it is really, really good jasmine. I prefer more blending, more notes – keeps me interested through the day as I wear it.

    • P.S. sushi in Japanese means rice and I think rice imperiale is a European or Russian desert dish, like a rice pudding – hence the name?

      • Now THAT is an eminently sensible explanation for the name!

        And you are another one voting for the more nuanced difference between abstract gourmand and straightforward foody. I think I like that distinction best.

        I love that Guerlain. I haven’t quite talked myself into the $$$$ bottle, but I’m working that direction.

  17. Dammit March! Let’s take this outside! :d he he… just jokes… Until recently, I’d never thought to consider a fragrance to be gourmand simply because it contains an edible note such as a citrus fruit, or spice. I always associated gourmand with dessert notes such as coffee, vanilla, nutmeg, and chocolate. I somehow have to believe that if it’s not the intent of the composition to be gourmand, then it isn’t. Yesterday coincidentally I gave Blue Sugar a full wearing (didn’t buy it, just from a tester)… that’s gourmand without a doubt but I don’t see the point in labeling a fragrance whose intent is not to paint a mental image of food as gourmand.

    • Wow … how did you feel about that Blue Sugar?

      The most enjoyable part of working through all these responses was: a) confirmation that we are not making the same assumptions about the terms; and b) a fun consensus-building group dialog about how those terms could be defined more precisely.

      • Blue sugar.. it wore me, as they say 🙂 It infiltrated every activity of my long day. It was there in the bathroom, there while I ate, and there when I brushed my teeth at night. Whew! In a fun way it smells kind of “good” to me, but only for special occasions… never for full day wear.

  18. Sort of besides any point you’ve raised, but have to add that I’ve always loved how machine translators turn “gourmand” (French) to “greedy” (English), and got a real kick out of Montale naming a scent “Chocolate Greedy”. Dying to know if the name came out of Babelfish or if they knew the implications in English.

    Anyway, happy to argue: I think Theorema is foody, although not too terribly foody.

    And love that you sprayed Bois Farine on your defenseless children. Don’t think I could pull that off without getting a chunk bitten out of my arm.

    • “Gourmand” does include a sense of “greedy” for food in French-it overlaps only slightly with “gourmet” and it’s connotations of refinement/discernment. A person who is gourmand won’t eat just anything, but they sure love their food. So “greedy” is not just a Babelfish aberation. I wonder if some fragrances are “gourmet”?

      • Hi Louise! I know, but in the context of perfume it has another meaning, and of course machines can’t take context into account. So “greedy”, of course, isn’t what is meant by a gourmand perfume. Or maybe it is 🙂

    • Excellent, an argument! Theorema makes me think of molten glass or something not foody. I know, though, that a number of people associate it with the holidays and by extension, holiday foods (mulled punch, those orange pomanders, etc.)

      Chocolate Greedy is IMHO an awesome name for a fragrance. I tried it the day of the sniffa and was positively impressed. It’s still not something I want to wear (I’d rather eat the chocolate) but I thought it was nicely done.

      • It is a great name! I just wonder if the meaning is what they intended. Perhaps it is exactly what they meant…

  19. Now I’m reading the other posts and there is “foody” but it that a real category in fragrance? Or is that a subcategory of gourmand? Crap, well, I just don’t know. I know A*Men isn’t called “Coffee Vanilla Patchouli Pie” but I have to believe that the perfumer meant for us to really feel the foody-ness of it more than say, Terre d’Hermes which is loaded with bitter citrus but isn’t in the least bit “edible”, or is it? Who knows.

    • I think that’s it exactly — A*Men is gourmand and TdH isn’t. What I think is interesting, though, is the gray area in between — where you’d describe something as gourmand and someone else might say no.

      I don’t care for Angel regular, but I think A*Men is delicious.

  20. Fascinating post and replies. I have never really thought about this distinction, but like so many others, I think sweetlife’s distinction makes sense. For myself, I know if a scent is often described as foody, I will not like it; if it is described as gourmands, there’s a chance I will (and a chance I won’t:) I do like Bois Farine very much; lots of people seem to get “peanut butter” here, but I have to think about it really hard to get this. And I choose not to. Also–I could be wrong, but I am under the impression that Slatkin’s Absinth was around before L’artisan’s (the absolument one might have been as well; I remember getting a sample from Europe some time ago) And you have omitted my fave absinth–Nasomatto.

    • PS Not such a vanilla nut, but I guess I should try that Sushi sometime.

      • Jduith — you should try that Sushi sometime, becuase (heh, my constant typo) I think you might like it very much.

        And thank you for not getting any peanut butter from Bois Farine; I am trying hard enough to make friends with it without that cropping up in my mind (nose?);)

        And thank you for your info about the absinthes — I have not tried Nasomatto, and should remedy that.

  21. My personal distinction between ‘gourmand’ and ‘foody’ is very black and white. Gourmand is good, foody is not. Gourmand is complex, balanced, and multi-note. Foody is a blast of some single note, having no balance whatsoever. I know that’s terribly intolerant of me, but it’s how my tidy mind has seen fit to organize things. lol

    I can’t call myself a fan of either of the L’Artisans, on my skin at least. I had a little of the Bois Farine on my hands when I played with the dog, and I must admit it smelled luscious on him – lol – but it seems a bit pricey for a doggie fragrance. :d The FdA was simply too masculine for me, but I passed it on to my son and it smelled perfectly right on him.

    The SI was another matter entirely. Lovely stuff. I could easily see myself wearing this regularly. There is something almost ‘snickerdoodle’ish about this fragrance. But it’s the ‘almost’ in that statement that makes it work for me. It isn’t a dead ringer for snickerdoodle cookies, it just puts me pleasantly in mind of them.

    • Now you are making me hungry. Here I am with my afternoon tea and a snickerdoodle or six would be perfect with it.

      You are right, I think Farine is expensive for a doggy fragrance. BTW I was at Nordstrom and Juicy has a line for your pet now called Poochy Couture or something similar.b-( Which I will not be buying.

      Glad you had someone to hand the Absinthe off to!

  22. I love it when we get into a Perfumista hair-splitting discussion that no one else in the whole world would understand or care about, but certainly matters to us! Foody — I think of Arabie (gag! The jetlag must have fogged my brain to agree to do that tomorrow, and I am going to sniff it again just in the interest of science and because i need to shower later). Gourmand, I think more of the comfort scents that are more vanillin.

    Bois Farine is one I have waxed poeticaly over in the past. I think it is simply gorgeous and unique and cunningly done, and it loves me.

    sushi is all that and a bag of snickers, but it scares me sometimes with how fierce it is without appearing that fierce, sort of like a banana nut muffin with fangs.

    Fou d’absinthe I do like a lot, but I never find myself grabbing for it. Not sure why, but I need to probably spend more time with it.

    • I am really starting to feel guilty about tomorrow. I am not sure I could bring myself to apply Arabie. I love the folks on this blog, but There Are Limits.

      I love your banana-nut muffin with fangs!

      Bois Farine, I just want that thing to work on me. I am going to keep trying to give it a hug.

  23. Most interesting. I put on Ford’s Black Orchid just this morning and asked myself if those around me would think I smelled like orchids or like Granny Clampitt on the Beverly Hillbillies who so loved her Vanilla Extract. I know, subtleties and nuances are what give our world meaning and grace so call me a phillistine while I say that the biggest (if not most significant) difference between gourmand and foody may be price point. (is there an emoticon for a sigh…)

    • Well, if I smelled you I would think you smelled like sex and truffles.:d

      The consensus seems to be: gourmand = complex/abstract/good

      foody = simple/one-note/mild criticism

  24. Not a fan of Bois Farine, but I do love me some Fou. Not too masculine on me at all, it is a lovely spicy piney scent that I reach for addictively in winter. Just got Sushi Imperiale and indeed a little bit goes a long way, but it’s fabulous if it works for you.

    • What is it with these people and their Pine-Sol, bathroom cleaner results from Fou? That makes me sad. I am glad to hear your results.

  25. good question. i think of gourmand as meaning something very sweet or candy-like or candied. i think of foody as encompassing sweet and spicy and salty and meaty and yeasty and boozy notes. yet the word gourmand means someone who is fond of eating, sometimes to excess – so perhaps i have my definitions twisted.

    bois farine is one of the few l’artisans that doesn’t work on me. must try the sushi again – didn’t give it a fair go the first time.

    • That seems to be the minority definition, grouping it by sweet vs. other types of food, although it makes sense for me. Of course I was using “edible” for the sweet stuff, which makes no sense at all…/:)

  26. I’m late, and I just can’t believe the hate for Fou d’Absinthe and the love for the Sushi!!! On my skin, FdA opens with pine which quickly settles into a softer green, and eventually into a lovely spicy wood, and I love my spicy woods(and my spicy drinks!) March, is it really true Absinthe is legal to import now, how did you know this(if you don’t mind me asking)?!? God knows after working this salary job, I need a damn stiff drink! (This is the place where I should insert a smiley icon to pretend I’m joking) The things I learn from you guys!

    I dabbed on the Sushi once and quickly scrubbed, that stuff packs a punch. I did not even wear it long enough to tell you why I don’t like it, but I am staying away from that vial for now.

    Haven’t tried the Bois Farine yet, my list is to darn long. But you all are killing me with all the Double Vanille talk, I MUST try it very soon!

    …and you forgot me(tear in one eye), but that’s ok, I still love you! :d

    • Yay — another Fou fan! I am surprised more people don’t love it. I don’t get the bathroom, the shaving cream, none of that mess.

      I believe absinthe became legal earlier this year, after some fairly heavy lobbying on behalf of a particular brand called Lucid. I know this because it was covered in our newspaper’s food section awhile back. There are many other brands, but I am not sure about distribution in the U.S. Lucid’s argument was that the stuff that made you crazy had a lot more wormwood and/or was contaminated with something else. I believe thujone, the active ingredient (from wormwood) is the issue for the Feds – finding thujone online for alternative medicine, e.g., skin issues, is difficult because they don’t want you drinking it.

      I am interested in absinthe from the perspective of the ritual — the glass, the sugar, the spoons. BTW I hear actually setting it on fire would horrify an absinthe snob, that’s declasse. But if it tastes like ouzo, I’m less interested.

      Here is a link I think you would enjoy very much:

      http://www.absinthebuyersguide.com/guide.html

  27. My first post! I’m completely new to the obsession (or maybe I just found a way to afford it, as I recently discovered decants and samples :)) It was wonderful to find this site and find out I’m not alone, and that others are even more obsessed. No one understands my excitement when new samples come in the mail. The Scent Club has helped me in two ways, by focusing my need to try everything at once, and by limiting the amount I spend (I’m only letting myself buy the Club picks, for now anyway).

    I have discovered that I love the gourmand scents; I have worn Sushi more days this month then any other scent and I find that I’m sniffing at my wrist to catch it again when I wear it.

    I’m wearing Fou d’Absinthe today and while I really like the whole experience, I’m not sure that I would have included it as a gourmand. (Maybe to me the gourmand needs to be more dessert/spice based?) It is thirty degrees here today, and Absinthe is a crisp- woodsy-hike outside, rather than a curl-up-with-a-mystery-and-a-cup-cocoa-by-a-fire cozy smelling gourmand.

    Bois Farine- I got it after reading March’s description, but would never have been able to figure out the bread/yeasty smell myself. On me, it got kinda flat and boring by the end. Maybe I’ll have to give it another try.

    • Hey, welcome! Well, after giving it a test drive, I’m not sure I’d have included Fou again either!:d

      We stuck it in because it’s absinthe (a drink) but I think it’s the least gourmand of the bunch. I get lovely pine woods I guess like you do. My recollection from the summer was the absinthe part was more prominent on my skin, and it may well have been — things smell different to me in cooler weather. Sushi would kill me in July.

      I am glad you’re enjoying your scent journey. Have fun sniffing on the Court, loads of goodies to be [email protected]};-

  28. Wearing Fou d’Absinthe today! I never thought of it as foody, I’d consider it green, and I get no Pine-Sol associations. It’s crisp and piney and..foresty? Can that be a word? And, I’m told, makes me smell as if I’ve accidentally sprayed myself with the boyfriends’s cologne, but who cares…

Comments are closed.