A quick trip back to childhood, a forgotten flavour, discovery of a new world? What sweet story does cream want to tell us? Cream is easy-going, quite neutral and slightly sour. But be careful! Be gentle and loving with it because this mischievous cream can curdle. It is very important to understand and control it properly so as to not upset it. Cream essentially brings out and enhances the most subtle flavours and softens sharp flavours. It adds creaminess and a delectable quality. There are a lot of white sweet elements associated with cream, the earlier white fruits with their sour taste, soft and sweetened like strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants. More classic fruits with multiple flavours like apples and pears. As well as the exotic fruits, like lychees, mangosteens and coconuts. Then come the flower waters, spices, syrups, white chocolate and sugars. Depending on the occasion, cream could be natural, fruity, sour, flavoured, spiced or light. Cheerful and joyous, it knows how to make the most of its assets and qualities. When in its simple natural form, it will reveal its true and powerful side, and tickles your palate with powerful notes of citrus fruits. When fruity or flavoured, it takes us on a stroll across the gardens.
Cream underlies it all
Michèle Gay is a self-described culinary perfumer. She bridges the worlds of perfume and cuisine by using creative cooking and its smells and tastes to invent new recipes. Researching in her fragrant kitchen, she follows cream’s lead, it being the perfect carrier of flavour.
In the perfumed kitchen, fats are the preferred medium. It’s a perfect match. Cream, like oil, butter or fat, is an ideal cushion. Fats are a developer. They are an impeccable material with which to capture scents. There’s a lot of interplay between the fat and the scent. Oil has its own aromatic history, which it brings with it, while cream gives it support more discreetly. Finally, while liquids soak up a scent quickly, fats it turns out, do so more efficiently.
Cold and hot infusions are two ways to capture scents. Hot infusion occurs within minutes. Cold infusion takes a much longer time, but enables fragrances to be fully released. This is similar to the approach used in perfumery. Flavouring also depends on the way in which we work the ingredients. With pepper berries and cracked pepper, you have a different fragrance experience. Each has a longer or shorter history, with top notes for some, and base notes for others, as well as other flavourings that are awakened in the mouth. There’s also a difference if dry or fresh ingredients are used. Cinnamon bark contains more herbal notes than its oil, which is more woody.
There is no one rule regarding this. We have to push boundaries and to experiment by finding out what works. Start with a strong base and go from there. The secret is this: I never seek out the recipe, but I find the perfume instead. It’s kitchen creativity. Never stop trying new things and keep being audacious.
Nelly Rodi is an agency which analyses and anticipates consumer market trends. Vincent Grégoire is Creative Director. He analyses the trend in infusions.
Like soups, broths or herbal teas, infusions are very big. All these flavoured liquids are like an alchemist’s blend and are very much oriented towards health and well-being. An herbal detox combined with an aphrodisiac, wild and natural, they’re all experiencing a renewed interest. There is a touch of the shamanic, the healer, the grandmother, almost like a wise women’s brew.
Very simply, we are trying to add effects that make textures and arrangements more subtle, to create surprise, a kind of lightness. Today, one can no longer be confined to one note, there needs to be a subtle harmony. There is a trend in herbs, that they should be wild, aromatic, both in the olfactory sense, as well as in their taste. Lemony notes can be a little more sporty and spices are usually more sensual and more mysterious.
Nature is all about being natural, being organic: they’re our current obsessions. We’re all afraid because species keep disappearing, so we need to remind ourselves that nature still exists. At the dawn of this invasive futurism, we’ve said that we will have to work with what we’ve got. And what we’ve got is incredible. Starting with the molecular and going up, all the technology is too risky and too weird leaving us a little freaked out, so we turn to more familiar, less threatening chemistry. That which is natural and uses our memories, it somehow reassures us. It’s fun to build things that play with people’s memories, something that acts as a mirror. It allows us to look to our past and feel good. Remembering how that strawberry tasted, well, we try to recreate it. Chefs are obsessed with memories and emotions.
Cooking is like perfume making. There’s a little magic to it. Finding a hint of mint in a custard, which we know to be a vanilla custard, is a very fascinating experience. Basil, usually reserved for tomatoes and mozzarella, is now used in other areas, such as haute perfumery. This is also the case with the Tonka bean. There is clearly an overlap between food and perfumery. Everyone works by observing one another, often doing so synergistically. Everything is decompartmentalized and allowed to occasionally intermingle. Perfumery has inspired cooking and vice versa. We are looking for the new, something that escaped its traditional bounds. All of this results in this decompartmentalization. We meet up with more and more talented people, people who are inspired by everything, and who therefore combine everything. This is a generation of creators working together, people whose friends are DJs, sports players, farmers, chefs. Everyone trades ideas. Chefs dream like haute perfumers, imbibing a new energy from the haute perfumeries.