Thursday, January 12, 2012

Etrog Breakthrough

Etrog perfume has been in the making since 2008, when I started collecting tinctures of the fruit (the first batch was created for me by my dear mother). It's been a long process, which was undermined by the scarcity of the fruit, which is precisely what makes it so appealing to create a perfume for.

Shortage of supplies is the first most difficult thing in creating this perfume. The fruit is grown in two places - Calabria (Italy) and in Israel - where it has a religious significance and is grown especially for display during the holiday of Sukkot. So much so, that at single fruit (and not even a very good quality at that - we're most likely looking at fruit that has traveled by boat and whose peel is very far from being plump and fresh) - would start at $40 each.

Thankfully, in Sukkot 2008, I stumbled upon the Sukkah Mobile driven by the very kind and generous Rabbi Binyomin Bitton of Chabad Downtown in Vancouver. He not only told me where I can find citron fruit for myself, but also was happy to donate his own Etrogim at the end of the holiday for all of my perfuming needs. Of course, that year it was not possible because it was a "Shmita" year - and these etrogim were not allowed to be used for any other purpose but for displaying and praying upon during Sukkot. So I had to wait another year before receiving 4 etrogim from him and his sons. Ever since then, he saves me the Etrogim every year!

Meanwhile, there were other elements missing. Green myrtle, which I finally found the oil for. As well as citron peel oil, which I still kept looking for despite its scarcity. It finally turned up, and I have just received the shipment this week!

The oil, however, does not quite resemble the fresh fruit as I imagine it from childhood; nor the (not so fresh fruit) which one can purchase from Chabad or other synagogues in the fall before Sukkot. It does not quite do justice to the heavenly, aromatic, perfumed more than a typical citrus note would be - which resembles pineapple, flowers and is delicate and sublime (that is the best way I can describe citron's scent). It's more lemony than I would have liked it to be. Far too lemony, albeit very lively.

April snow

Thankfully, along with the same package of oils, I've also received another floral note which I was never too keen on working with but curious nevertheless: Poplar bud absolute. Pouring this scent into its bottle, it looks like melted butter, dotted with milk solids that couldn't quite melt in the heat. However, it has an aroma that is more medicinal than floral. More than anything else it reminds me of propolis (the intense smelling sticky resinous substance bees use to seal their hives with; it's also extremely valuable for its therapeutic uses:it's an antibiotic, anti microbial and anti fungal, strengthens the immune system, and is useful in treating burns as well). But it also reminds me of the white part of the citrus peel - which is exactly what I was after with the Etrog perfume. So now that my main theme oils are in (citron and myrtle - both of which are symbols of the holiday of Sukkot), and my floral heart is figured out, I think I can finally get into full swing of my perfume creation, and have it ready for you in the summer. It will be a Jewish Eau de Cologne!

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At January 18, 2012 9:20 PM, Anonymous hongkongmom said...

This is really exciting Ayala...squeeee
I am looking forward to this. Smell has a very strong place in religion and even in the Beit Hamikdash, incenses, aloes, cassis, mhyre and more were burned in the holiest of spaces. Every morning in prayer, there is a very detailed description of a combination of scents. It is however forbidden to try to replicate it. I believe if we were all perfectly aligned to each other and Hashem, we would be able to smell whether a person has been badly behaved. One of my favourite smells is the whiff of mixed spices we smell at the end of each Shabbos during the havadalah prayer. The etrog is something unbelieveable as well, together with the arbah minim and the scach leaves on the top of the sukkah! When do you think it will be ready? Do you want someone to smell the developments with you? I would be so honoured to!..Also I can try to save you some etrogs...but we have a good few months....What about ideas for passover ...coming up!

At January 26, 2012 8:26 AM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm about my Etrog perfume! I can't wait to share it with you - it will launch this summer and I hope you will try it then :-)
Etrog is such a special citrus. It is so exotic and floral and not nearly as lemony as it looks! It reminds me of quince, pineapple and flowers, and the only other citrus that smells close to it is pomelo.

The Etrog perfume will also have hadass (green myrtle), and a little bit of date-like sweetness from the poplar buds - so it will be an authentic Sukkot smell!

As for Passover - I usually wear Zohar, my orange blossom perfume, because around that time of the year all of Israel is wrapped in the scent from the blooming orange groves. That's usually the time of the year I go and visit my family and if I don't - it will always bring me happy memories :-)


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