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Tomato Leaf – Wordless memories and favourite summer smells – June 27, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Image - Wikimedia Commons

The brain is amazing. I read a while ago that in order to remember a fact, you only need to hear it, say it, and write it – three times each. Then the fact, useless or not, will get stuck in your brain forever. I’ve tried this technique a few times for remembering interesting bits of info, and it appears to work, so far anyway. Check back in twenty years, and I’ll have an update on the long-term forever part.

Remembering smells is much easier. No language is required, no words need to be heard, spoken, or seen, since the ability to remember smells after one sniff is hard-wired, part of our survival tool-kit - touch and smell are the first fully functioning senses when we hit the outside world as newborns. Because we form smell memories before we have words, this could explain why describing smells is often problematic. How often have you sniffed a smell that you know you recognize beyond a doubt, and yet have a hard time putting into words exactly what it is, or what it smells like? Smell is memory, memory is smell, linked, interwoven and sometimes wordless.

Here’s one of my smell memories, a mix of images, sounds and feelings followed by the scent, a little smell-a-vision video in my head. It’s all true:

I’m six years old and it’s a warm summer morning. The milk has just been delivered to our back porch by the milkman. I can hear the wagon crunching down the back lane with glass bottles clinking, and the big horse chuffing when the driver pulls on the reins to stop him at the next customer’s house.

My mother bangs the garden gate as she goes out with her bucket and shovel to collect the pile of steaming manure left behind our garage. Back she comes into the garden, and I watch through the kitchen window as she mulches the dung into the earth around the tomato plants, readjusts the stakes, plucks off a few yellowed leaves, and then empties the watering can over the mounded soil, turning it instantly black.

She closes the kitchen door, and I smell the strong scent of the tomato leaves on her hands as she washes in the sink. “If this good weather keeps up, and the milkman’s horse stays regular, we’re going to have a bumper tomato crop”, she says.

It was a spectacular summer, the horse continued to supply top-quality fertilizer, and I proudly helped my mother pick the harvest of sweet juicy firm red tomatoes, the best in the neighbourhood that season. The smell of that tomato patch was truly indescribable – stems, fruit, leaves, earth, flowers, water, mixed with the scent from nearby peach and pear trees  - but I remember it distinctly, and to this day, it is one of my favourite summer smells.

This old memory was triggered by sniffing a fragrance called Tomato Leaf, part of the Haute Perfume line from Illuminum, created by Michael Boadi in 2011. Tomato Leaf doesn’t smell exactly like tomato leaves, which have a very distinct green astringent vegetal smell with a bitter pine facet, similar to geranium leaves. If you’re yearning for a soliflore scent featuring that very special single note, this isn’t it. This is tomato leaf, and much more.

Tomato Leaf opens with a divine accord made from the earthy rootiness of carrot seed, which is very similar to the iris note, bitter green vegetal tomato leaf, and the sweet zest of an ripe orange – fresh, bitter, sweet, tangy, and earthy all in one big sniff. The astringent green tomato comes to the top for a minute or two, and then it subsides as the white florals come into play.

Freesia, jasmine, and peachy osmanthus form the heart of this green floral fragrance, the peppery green soapy freshness of the freesia mixing with the indolic jasmine at first, and then giving way to the soft velvety peach-skin scent of the osmanthus flower. As the heart settles, this floral accord softens, losing some of its sweetness as the green tomato note pokes through periodically, and taking on a sensation of flowers floating in water, flowers that smell just like water lilies. The heart is full and rich, but not too floral, not too green, fresh and still earthy.

The base notes add musk, a light white musk rather than dark animal musk, and vanilla is listed, but the tomato leaf makes it smell more like coconut milk – sweet but vegetal. The dry-down lasts several hours and Tomato Leaf still smells green, a little bit earthy, softly sweet, like a stroll in the garden on a late summer afternoon.

Tomato Leaf has an energy and freshness and a casual vibe that makes it a perfect summer fragrance for both men and women, but it also has a distinctive olfactory twist that makes it different and unique, and that’s the tomato leaf note. I think the only people who won’t like Tomato Leaf are those who don’t like tomatoes. Too bad - they’ll never know what they’re missing.

Today, we’re adding Tomato Leaf to our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00.