I recently came across an excellent book. Its author, chef Jennifer McLaghan, explores the dark, long-flooded compartments of gastronomy with the detached interest of a deep-sea diver: in the recipe books Fat, Bones, and Odd Bits.) including. The latter is devoted to the preparation of such animal parts, which a person, unless he practices necromancy, prefers not to think about - let alone bake them in his own oven. And now - "Bitter", "Bitter".
This book began with grapefruit. The author discussed them with her friend and came to the conclusion that she had not tried a truly "biting" grapefruit for a long time: over the decades of stubborn selection, they had exhausted all the bitterness (a parallel with modern perfumery suggests itself). McLaghan writes: When was the last time you came across a bitter grapefruit with white flesh? Me - years ago. The grapefruits of my childhood were replaced with pink, sweet ones. Yes, they still have sourness, but the bitterness is gone, and now they are not so interesting to eat."
A long time ago, I lived with my parents in Rome. If you are a teenager in Italy, consider yourself lucky and unlucky at the same time. Luckily, you find yourself in a gourmet Disneyland for teenagers: jumping into a cart filled to the brim with pasta and pizza, you can roll on twisted rails until you get bored - or until you grow up. The downside is that you are sweeping past the deposits of Italian delicacies with great speed, for which every adult non-Italian will sacrifice his immortal soul. As befits a teenager of my generation, not partaking in the secrets of farmer's and organic shops, I hated olive oil, arugula, and the Italians' favorite chicory salad. It will not be an exaggeration if I say that all four years I have eaten only pizza, pasta and pink Italian sausage mortadella.
In general, the dislike of bitter food, and not only among teenagers fed up with pizza, can be easily explained - the human tongue is covered with taste buds that pick up the slightest traces of bitterness. This is our innate air defense: many natural toxins have a bitter taste, and therefore the first reaction to pronounced bitterness is to make a grimace (making it clear to the other members of the pack that there should not be any rubbish) and spit it out.
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But with age, the number of taste buds decreases, and the idea of what is tasty, on the contrary, expands: we learn to love coffee, good gin and tonic, quality chocolate and bitter herbs in salads. I personally mourn every chicory leaf not eaten in Italy and make up for the feeling of loss with a bitter IPA as much as I can. And bitter aromas with galbanum, angelica and wormwood - but it is more difficult here: there are few of them, because the buyer simply does not like them. “Love for good bitterness,” writes Kinfolk magazine, is an acquired habit of an adult. The point is that it needs to be acquired: none of us receives love for bitterness from the first breath, free of charge - unlike, say, love for sweets, read the taste of mother's milk. We are programmed to love sweets: sugar, writes gastro critic Jeffrey Steingarten, makes it easier for the amino acid tryptophan to travel from the blood to the brain. Tryptophan stimulates the release of serotonin. The presence of serotonin in the synapses between neurons, in turn, relieves symptoms of depression. And what removes the bitterness? Barriers with which we limit our ideas about deliciousness. The bitterness must be imbued with.
This, it would seem, is not difficult: bitters and classic digestifs are effectively returning to cocktail cards, restaurants offer arugula, dandelions, radicchio, beet greens and frieze, and all sorts of bitter vegetables like Brussels sprouts and white asparagus. Producers of good olive oil do not hesitate to write on the label that it is amaro, and expensive "artisanal" chocolate already tastes little different from streptocide. But try to release a scent with obvious bitterness, and it will simply scare many. The main genre of modern perfumery is gourmet: selling sweets (in the slang of users of perfumery forums - “sweets”) is so simple, but the taste for bitterness must be instilled. Which brand will take on this mission, and with it the commercial risk? While "luxury" perfumery is not ready for a bitter pill, and is very indicative as an example Hermès: the worst thing in their line of "columns" sells delicious Eau de Gentiane Blanche, "White Gentian" - dry, cool, austere. Bitter as gin
Flavors with beautiful bitterness
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1 | Corsica Furiosa, Parfum d'Empire
Hot peppers, bitter galbanum, angry mint - Emperor Furiosa rides the green road of fury.
2 | Allegria, Rouge Bunny Rouge
Caustic herbs, mint, basil, eucalyptus - and a very natural, sulphurous grapefruit in the taste of Jennifer McLaghan: green bitterness that you want to wash down with summer compote.
3 | Absinth, Nasomatto
This year the calmest fragrance in the Nasomatto portfolio has an anniversary: now Absinth is a ten-year-old absinthe. Soft wormwood, a lump of burnt sugar, a cloud of alcohol.
4 | Private Collection, Estée Lauder
The reference autumn chypre, just right for today's weather: bitter chrysanthemum tea, disheveled flower beds, late infused honey.>