Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Saucy Scents

Scent, Savor, Perfume, Fragrance, Bouquet, Aroma, Atmosphere, Taste

The sense of smell and taste intermingle. They lend layers to a story and conjure feelings and memories in the reader. Writing about these senses does not come naturally to me, because I don't have a strong sense of smell and that affects the tastebuds.

"Here, smell this," says a friend as she moves a candle under my nose in a store.

"Hmmm," I'll say politely, generally with no clue as to what whiffed by my nose.

It's good there are alarms to signal fire, because unless I was up in flames myself, don't count on me to smell something burning.

That's why an article in the WSJ (4/9-10/2011. p. C11) caught my eye. Marie Wright is a flavorist. She's "created more than 1,000 flavors for food and beverage companies, including bourbon vanilla for coffee beans, apple-peach for cookies, and rosemary/garlic for crackers."

She doesn't specialize, but deals in sweet, savory, or beverage flavors. She builds formulas in her head, mixing ingredients and "visualizing the smell in colors and textures." Over 4,000 compounds, oils, and extracts are her building blocks, as she considers emotional and psychological impacts of flavors.

"Scents have personalities." For example a paper strip soaked in isoamyl acetate first smells like nail polish remover, but then morphs into bubble gum and pear. "To me," Ms.Wright says,"this one is very happy."

Creativity as a flavorist - who knew? I shall keep this article in mind as I write my next story.

I'll also whip up a batch of brownies for inspiration. My nose might be weak but its sense of chocolate is strong.

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