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Asafoetida in Perfumery. Discuss?

Asafoetida in Perfumery. Discuss? 8 years ago
Hello everyone. I read a recent review of Cabochard in which one of our friends identified that Cabochard contains Asafoetida, and that it may be this note which gives this terrific fragrance it's character. Hmmm, I find this fascinating, and I think that it would make for a interesting discussion.

Here is the thing, Asafoetida stinks! If Asafoetida is used in fragrance it must be to support another note or accord. I doubt very much if it would appear as an identifiable note in it's own right, in fact I am confident that it would not.

Out of curiosity I have smelled Cabochard this morning, and I have smelled Asafoetida too. I love to cook Indian food, so I have Asafoetida in my store cupboard, although I use it very rarely. I personally can't smell Asafoetida in Cabochard, (which doesn't mean that it is not there). As I said, I would not expect to actually smell Asafoetida in any fragrance.

Asafoetida is used as a seasoning in cooking. It is used at the level of a pinch. Think of it as a flavour enhancer. Any more would overwhelm everything else in a really unpleasant way. It's usually used as powder but I understand that it is also used fresh where available. I am talking about Asafoetida powder here. If you get Asafoetida on your hands, it is very difficult to get off and it is really not nice. If it is not stored tightly and securely in glass it will contaminate everything else in your cupboard. If you eat too much Asafoetida, your skin and sweat will smell of Asafoetida.

How does it smell? It's difficult to describe, but here goes; try raw garlic, wild garlic flowers and roots, onions, and spring onions (scallions), concentrated and gone off, with a pungent, dusty, tangy, fetid smell. It is so strong and it is really stinky! ( I don't know anyone who wouldn't say that) I understand that some Hindu people traditionally used it as an alternative to onions and Garlic because those foods were prohibited, so that will give you some idea of it's qualities, although it is all that and more.

I would be fascinated to hear of the use of Asafoetida in fragrance. Does anyone know anything more about this?
8 years ago
The Parfumo search shows 10 perfumes with the fragrance note Asafoetida. Amazing!
8 years ago
Interesting

Asafetida

Scientific Name(s): Ferula assa-foetida L. (synonym Ferula foetida [Bunge] Regal). Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)

Common Name(s): Asa Foetida , asafetida , asafoetida , devil's dung , gum asafoetida , hing , stinkasant

Uses

The gum resin asafetida is used as a flavoring, food preservative, and fragrance. It is used as a folk remedy for a wide variety of purposes, including carminative, antispasmodic, expectorant, sedative diuretic, anthelminthic, aphrodisiac, and emmenagogue. Antiviral activity has been demonstrated in vitro against the influenza A virus (H1N1). There is no clinical evidence to support therapeutic claims.
More info here

www.drugs.com/npp/asafetida.html
8 years ago
Foustie, your description of the way asafetida behaves in food reminds me of cooking with nam pla. In the bottle it smells exactly like what it is (fermented fish), but the stench thankfully disappears when blended with other ingredients and it adds depth to Thai food.

I'm not certain you can create an interesting, memorable perfume without a dash of funk thrown in even if that note isn't obvious to the nose. We have a few perfumers as members and I'd love to hear their thoughts.
8 years ago
Great search idea, Apicius and thanks for the discussion, Foustie. I'm so in love with Cabochard, now, I have to make myself not reach for it and continue the sniff fest through my collection I'm doing. Turns out I have decants of several of the asafoetida fragrances in our database. Will locate, sniff through and report.

I do think it's asafoetida that makes Cabochard as addictive as it is.
8 years ago
Premier Figuier by L'Artisan also contains a good dose of asafoetida, apparently. Although, I would hardly called Premier Figuier "stinky" or unpleasant. I too have encountered asafetida in the culinary setting, when a dear friend of mind decided to make me a grand birthday feast of traditional cuisine from her home region of Madras, she purchased this pungent talisman and added 1/8 tsp. directly to my new rice steamer. New rice steamer in the garbage by the end of the evening...somethings, one just can't un-smell. I was surprised to learn that the beautiful and discontinued Tendre Poison by Dior contains Asafoetida, as well!
8 years ago
Apicius:
The Parfumo search shows 10 perfumes with the fragrance note Asafoetida. Amazing!

Wow! Now that is interesting.
8 years ago
Flavorite:
...somethings, one just can't un-smell.

That says it all Flavorite!
8 years ago
Cryptic:
Foustie, your description of the way asafetida behaves in food reminds me of cooking with nam pla. In the bottle it smells exactly like what it is (fermented fish), but the stench thankfully disappears when blended with other ingredients and it adds depth to Thai food.

Yes Cryptic, that is a really good analogy. Although Nam Pla doesn't stick to and stink out every other thing that it comes into contact with, including you! Asafoetida is mean!
8 years ago
Perfumery.... a source of eternal fascination. The stinkier the better in my books. I shall immediately procure some today to smell for myself what these facets are, that have such a use for perfumery.

Also many more ordinary kitchen ingredients get used in perfumery that might be unexpected, such as the cepes, and of course many, many spices that cross into (or from) cookery territory. In the light of this, not so surprisingly, onion and garlic are available as fairly ordinary essential oils. I am led to believe that fenugreek is the mystery ingredient in a certain famous numerical perfume. I have no proof of that, but truly fascinating anyway. True or not.
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