Sfumato fragrances are based heavily in culinary ideas because fragrance and flavor are inextricably linked. Although the tongue senses taste inputs like bitter, sour, and umami, much of the flavor perceived while eating is due to aromas. While you chew, some of the molecules in the food evaporate and travel up the back of your throat into your nasal cavity. Here they are sensed by the very same receptors that register smells when you breathe in through your nostrils. In fact, it is many of the same molecules that contribute to both scent and flavor, and they are being perceived by a single set of olfactory receptors.
Yet at some point deeper in the mind, flavor and fragrance diverge. Scents inhaled through the nose are separated from those produced by eating. Where taste is intrinsically tied to sustenance in a way that scent is not, scent encompasses communication in a way that taste does not. Unfettered by impressions of nutrition, scent sheds form and texture to become an invisible bridge from one mind to another mind, an ethereal medium for communication.
Scent as a form of communication is not new. Animals and insects have used pheromones to relay alarm, aggregation, or sources of food for ages. Pheromone signals are like nature’s proximital snapchat. ‘“I’m horny,” the cat in heat said scent-sually.’ And it is from these basic ideas of communication that layers of metaphor and meaning can be added. But quite often it is not a verbal message that is transmitted, but rather an emotion, a memory, and glimpse into the abstract. It is this aspect of communication: to embody ideas beyond words, to transcend digitization, that goes hand in hand with the creation of Sfumato scents.
But despite the dichotomy, flavor can inform scent. The neural overlap in fragrance and flavor systems is large, and what better measure of someone’s acceptance of an idea than their willingness to eat it? Through the development of culinary arts, many herb and spice combinations have been optimized, raw foods are heated to bring about chemical changes that render the flavor profile more appealing. Since millennia of (mostly) impromptu research has been performed in kitchens across the globe, many harmonious scent combinations are already known. Rosemary, lavender, thyme; nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, these pairings are the basis of entire cuisines, and inform the pursuit of more complex blends.
And due the ephemeral nature of both food and scent, continuous optimization through repetition is a natural consequence. When you eat your art, or it evaporates into nothingness, you must create it again, but better this time.
And so it is because of the neural ties, the possibilities of metaphor and nuance, and the vast array of known harmonies that flavor is integrally linked to the creation of each Sfumato fragrance.