What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Normally yesterday would have been Mass-Market Monday, but I’ve been recovering from the post-effects of a trip to San Diego to a scientific conference (my other life), and the pre-effects of preparing for the Taste TV Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco (this life). Without Stacey to assist me, I’m not sure how I could have managed such a fast turnaround.

The backlog of shipping is more or less caught up for now, and yesterday the big boxes of items for the trunk show at Tigerlily on Friday and the Salon on Saturday were dropped off at FedEx. What a lot of stress it is to get things ready in advance to allow for shipping time, and what a relief it always is when those boxes are on their way! I’ve gotten much more efficient at preparing for shows, having generated a comprehensive checklist and stored infrastructure items in places that are reasonably accessible and easy to remember. However, there’s always a different set of stock to bring to shows, and this is now the biggest challenge to prepare.

Looking back on San Diego, it doesn’t have the strong jasmine scent that I associate with San Francisco and LA. Maybe it wasn’t the right season, but I don’t think I saw jasmine growing there. The few flowers that were growing were not fragrant. What I did smell in San Diego was mass-market perfume everywhere on the streets. It was of two distinct types, which, as you might have guessed, were the women’s and men’s versions.

All of the women’s perfumes were saturated with the “scratchy green tea” note that I dislike so much. It would have been hard to pin it down to specific fragrances, or even brands, because that note is so ubiquitous in mass-market perfumes and produces so much sillage that everything else is left behind on, or very close to, the wearer. 

The men’s perfumes were all heavy on the sharp “woody-amber” notes, which I don’t mind as long as they are not mixed with aquatics. Thankfully, San Diego men did not seem to go for aquatics. Every perfume that I smelled on the street belonged to one of these two classes. I don’t know if that’s the case elsewhere (it's not on the UW campus), but it certainly was in San Diego.

My other interesting discovery was "Mexican" food made with French fries. My first introduction to this genre was a “cheeseburger taco”, which was a bit of meat with cheese, fresh salsa, and … you guessed it … French fries, all rolled up in a soft taco. It’s not as bad as it sounds! In fact, it was pretty good. Later, at another venue I saw people eating carnitas (barbecued meat) topped with French fries, cheese, and salsa.

My biggest achievement while in San Diego was eating two fish tacos. This probably doesn’t sound like much of an achievement, but years ago I suffered a bad case of food poisoning after eating a fish taco at a chain Mexican restaurant in Irvine, California. That experience resulted in an intense conditioned taste aversion to fish tacos that only now is reaching the point where I can think about putting a fish taco anywhere near my mouth. I have to say that the fish tacos I ate on two separate occasions, from two different establishments, were excellent, and I suffered no ill effects. It felt good to know that I can finally enjoy this specialty again!

On Friday I leave for San Francisco, so there will probably be some more down time on the blog. 

[All photos are mine, taken with my trusty phone and un-Photoshopped]

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