Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 97 (?) ~ OYON, 365 Days of Olfaction ~ Snake Root

Day 97? Who's keeping track anyway?

So, snake root oil. Nifty little perfumery ingredient. Archaic. We'll talk about that in a minute.

Last night I had Moroccan food -- for the second time since I've been living on the central coast -- at a little place in SLO called 'Oasis'. I'm a huge fan of Mediterranean food, and moving from 'home' to here and finding very little in the way of Mediterranean style food (there is a little food stand near Cal Poly called 'Fattoush', which is great, by the way) with sit down dinners and great ambiance, I was really struggling. I know, sounds stupid, struggling without food types. You have to understand, the woman writing this blog could eat her weight in kalamata olives and feta cheese -- daily, not to mention barrels full of hummos and baba ghanouj and romaine dripping with lemon juice and olive oil and mint. Yeah, I'm the chick who hoards 5 lb dry packs of salted dried black olives, Turkish style, for late night snacks when the other grazers go to bed. So, Oasis serves a Moroccan style of Mediterranean food, the chef trained in Fez, the Moroccan food capital, and highly recommends a trip to Morocco to unwind and relax. Anyway, the point is, the food was fabulous, and the tea! The Moroccan tea that Kamir, the chef, blends himself, is soooo good -- worth the trip alone to get a pot of tea. So last night I had a chicken dish with tomatoes and eggplant and perfumed rice with thick slabs of Moroccan bread on the side. Man. Blissing out! And the dolma and baba ghanouj are, like, the absolute best I've ever had. The tea, though, that's what struck me, I want a soap and a perfume that smell like that gorgeous and tasty tea.

Onto the snake root oil.

Got a big, old bottle. Not ol' bottle, I'm not poking you in the ribs with my elbow here. Old. Vintage. I did a little research as I'd only heard of snake root being used in Native American medicine, but apparently there are varieties of so-called snake root oil, and judging from the scent profile (like calamus and German chamomile and ginger lily and a slight hint of valerian root rolled into one) I'd say it's the Canadian snake root, once used in perfumery. It's different. Not necessarily herbal, but perhaps a combination of herb and musk as the valerian-like undertone kind of takes it there. And I can't get over the similarity to German chamomile. It's got that breathy quality that the initial sniff of G. cham produces, like wind off the hills in southern Montana (it's the sages there), or the smell of the estuary in Los Osos, Ca. Very earthy and primal and vibrant with a hint of a fruity note and a back note of mosses. Kind of all over the place.

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