Sunday, 18 August 2013

SMELLS OF SAUDI ARABIA


I have been away from my blog for quite a while. Life has been lately filled with new adventures, which included being exposed for the fist time to the Middle Eastern culture (and smells).

I realise that it's the first time (or perhaps the second, after Brazil) I see fragrance being so much part of a culture. Here they wear enigmatic and overpowering perfumes in big quantities. But fragrance is not only worn, it is used to celebrate special moments too.

A few scented pictures:

Grocery wonderland.

In the west herbs and spices are practically ground, contained in jars and sold in supermarkets mostly. Here you can buy the whole ingredient (mainly for cooking) practically everywhere. As I visit a grocery store, a "scent library" is in front of me, each drawer containing a different taste and smell universe... Heaven!

Sealed with a scent.

I was invited to a wedding. Real oud being burnt on a burner, the burner being passed around to participants as they let their clothes become imbued with the smell. The scent sealing that moment. Unforgettable. Oud has become an overwhelming trend in Western perfumery over the last few years. In Saudi, Oud is perfume culture, having always been used for burning and as a perfume. 

Besides, another scent. Elegant men wearing a traditional uniform, carrying around luxurious jars. They pour a hot, spicy drink in small cups, which they serve throughout the wedding. That drink is coffee and the taste (and smell) is new: that of cardamom. Saudis drink it often throughout the day.

Another suitcase, another journey...

We are at the souk. Next to mesmerising carpets and goods of any kind, I am offered the opportunity to smell real perfume ingredients (wood), chopped and contained in a lot of suitcases. In the meantime, I am sipping hot camel milk. Unlike any perfumery store!

Aside from the raw materials, (ridiculous amounts and mysterious varieties of) bottled perfumes are sold, made by local producers. In the West we use perfume in alcohol, here perfume is in oil.

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg...

NP/SP

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