Day 1 of 14 - The smell of bread and dumplings...
In this series of short articles I will reflect on my daily thoughts and observations, look at things that happen around me from different perspectives and add things that I find worth reading or that help me in my day-to-day life... I will try to keep it up for 14 days as a little experiment - please enjoy.
This is #1.
Almost everybody I know occasionally associates experiences and memories with certain scents. May it be the scent of a fresh croissant connected to a holiday memory in France or the smell of freshly ground coffee reminding them of a lazy Sunday morning at that cozy little café around the corner...
I have connected plenty of good and bad memories to the things I pick up with my nose and I probably owe that to my mother. She introduced me to the world of scents and perfumes at quite an early stage in my life - probably around the age of 12. Aromas like almond, amber, basil, bergamot, berries, citrus, cardamom, coffee, daisy, earl grey, fir, ginger, grass, honey, incense, jasmine, kelp, lavender, leather, magnolia, musk, neroli, oud, orange, osmanthus, patchouli, pepper, quince, rose, sandalwood, sawdust, tonka been, tuberose, vanilla, vetiver, whiskey, yuzu and ylang ylang - just to name a few - create a variety of pictures in my head and remind me of many different kinds of things, situations and people.
In early summer 2011 I first experienced the smell of Shanghai. I believe every city has its distinctive smell throughout the seasons. It's like a good perfume going through the different phases: top or "head", middle or "heart" and the base or "dry down" phase.
Shanghai's top phase is clear and distinctive, there are hints of salt and freshness from the nearby sea. The middle phase is defined by savory flavors: musky, woody with slight aromas of vetiver and seasonal flowers. The base ultimately reveals the true scent of Shanghai. It carries sweet, hearty, flavorful aromas that I haven't picked up anywhere else in the world. The smell reminds me of the little shops selling savory-sweet, clay oven baked, plum and mushroom filled flatbread, pan-fried dumplings and beef broth with noodles.
But why, you may ask, am I writing about scents? Well, during the past few weeks the smells and flavors were gone. They disappeared from the streets. All the small shops and restaurants were shut down and all the merchants selling food, flowers and other treats straight from their carts were gone.
But Shanghai has done a great job in containing the outbreak of the virus. It's not certain how and when a second or third wave might hit, but by reacting fast and determined to the first one, it has not only helped to keep the numbers of infections and fatalities down but also to retain the diversity of its (food/bar/coffee/...) culture. Now that the city returns to normality, the flavors and smells return and so does the true character of this city...
Here is an interesting article about how Shanghai has built up knowledge since 1989 regarding epidemics and how it helped containing 2019-nCoV:
And here are some of my all time favorites when it comes to perfumes:
Acqua di Parma - Leather (EdP, Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/3aerWJz)
L'Occitane Eau Des Beaux (EdT, Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/3dpLSuP)
Tom Ford Oud Wood (EdP, Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2JcXKCu)
Amouage Reflection (EdP, Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2WATkNP)
Serge Lutens Five o'clock au gingembre (EdP, Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2WDopAp)
Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir (EdT, Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/39elQYf)