My Motherland by Dzintars 1981: from Latvia with love

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Post by Ainslie Walker

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Hello lovelies!

The first time I pondered smells of Latvia, I was in my kitchen in Sydney circa 1995 toasting a slice of “Latvian Sweet and Sour Bread.” The smell was divine – spicy, slightly sweet and tart. The bread was a dark rye/sourdough containing aromatic seeds. On further investigation I established the seeds were caraway, a new and delicious flavor to me. The bread, with new and improved politically correct name, is still available from Coles supermarkets in Australia. Particularly delicious toasted with butter- spread thick and vegemite- spread sparsely.

Was it just an odd Australian-ism naming this bread Latvian or was it traditional to the country? Thanks recently to Google (which was not really around back then) and some further international travels, I learnt caraway is used in a lot of Latvian cooking, including in their traditional cheese. I still always ask about the bread to any Latvians I come across and it usually starts an interesting conversation…or a really odd stare!!

Dzintars by Dzintars #3

Recently my wonderful Latvian friend was speaking to her mother about Latvian scents when her mum wandered off, coming back with a small collection of old bottles and boxes she called me straight away. The bottles were treasures she had collected and brought over from Latvia when immigrating and also gifts she had received from travelling friends and relatives over the years. In the package was plenty of vintage bottles of Joy by Jean Patou, but the one that caught my attention the most was something I had never seen before. They requested I do some research for them, so here goes:

My Motherland by Dzintars

From Latvia with love

Dzintars by Dzintars #1

From the site (Thank you Undina)
Top: Lily-of-the-valley, geranium, bergamot
Heart: Rose, jasmine, neroli, iris, hyacinth, ylang-ylang
Base: Musk, amber, black pepper, cinnamon

Dzintars by Dzintars – a product house based in Riga dating back to 1849. With 188 fragrances in their back catalogue, they are deemed the largest manufacturer of cosmetics and perfumery in the Baltics.

You can see in the photos, the beautiful cut glass bottle, silk covered and lined box – complete with hand embroidered ribbon and medallion pinned to it. Just gorgeous! Opening the bottle, which is now empty I can smell traces of patchouli, civet, musky oakmoss and balsamic sweet, sticky notes. Research says the fragrance from 1981 is a chypre containing bergamot, lily-of-the-valley, cyclamen, iris, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, patchouli, cloves, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss and civet.

Dzintars by Dzintars #2

The word Dzintars is Latvian for amber and more than 4000 men in Latvia share the name – it is often also a surname! On eBay I found a CD called Dzintars: Songs of Amber by the Latvian Women’s Choir! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love amber, so this is hugely impressive to me!! Perhaps I have found my calling in the Baltics? Ha ha.

Dzintars by Dzintars #5

My own mother was a “10 pound Pom” back in the 50’s, emigrating from the UK to Australia with her parents via boat with 1 suitcase between them. Have you ever considered what fragrant treasures people bring from country to country and what their stories are? It is interesting to ponder the trails fragrances take before landing in our possession. It’s fascinating to get people talking about the fragrance bottles they have stashed away when empty, yet not thrown out – there is always a sentimental tale to discover.

Dzintars by Dzintars #6

What’s your favorite and sentimental fragrance story? Have you any Dzintars fragrances? What can you tell me about them?

Until next time! X

Ed: There are some changes to the original post because Undina has found extra information and can read the language. Thanks Undina. XXX)

9 comments on “My Motherland by Dzintars 1981: from Latvia with love

  1. australianperfumejunkies says:

    Heya Ainslie,
    Love this story. The bottle looks a bit like one of the Norell bottles, I think.
    Portia xx

  2. Marion says:

    Oh my god . Back in my Universty days I had the most passionate and delirious love affair with a Norwegian architecture student. Well without digressing too much one of his flat mates was Latvian. I tasted among other things the caraway, and rye, and the weird Norwegian cheese that was a bit like caramel. I would only have been wearing Mitsouko. The Empress captured me quite young. My architecture student was the son of a Norwegian ships captain and was always getting on some cargo ship and sailing off. Unfortunately I’ve not been the marrying kind and had to go my own way. But it’s quite a magic carpet ride because our perfume art enraptures and captures our most beautiful memories.

    • Lindaloo says:

      Marion, rye bread with caraway is excellent and is also a kind of bread made in Russia and Ukraine. So is caraway in cheese. The type that is easily found in Canada is Havarti with caraway.
      That weird Norwegian cheese is called Gjetost and and is usually found in a red package by Ski Queen. The caramel taste comes from it being slowly and continuously heated until the sugars caramelize.
      It was my Norwegian brother-in-law (my sister was the marrying kind 😉 ) who introduced tit o my family as well as eating toast with thinly sliced pieces of white cheese on top of jam.

    • Thank you for sharing your stories! Sounds romantic, exotic and exciting! I just love hearing stories like these! Thanks for stopping by! Xx
      Ainslie Walker recently posted…NAOMI GOODSIR PEONY HAUTE PARFUMERIE, MELBOURNE SOIRÉEMy Profile

  3. Lindaloo says:

    My mother didn’t have any perfumes as a young woman, so was very pleased when my older sister bought her a bottle of Chanel No.5 cologne. Of course she only wore it for special occasions. The sentimental part for me is that it was the first time she had that kind of luxury. The bottle of Flora Danica I bought her years later was worn frequently enough that she emptied the bottle, and displayed the beautiful bottle along with her finer glassware.

  4. Undina says:

    Ainslie Walker, thank you for a wonderful post: I enjoyed reading it, and it made me smile: I have my own pleasant childhood memories of Latvian food (I traveled to there with my parents), though it wasn’t bread.

    I know this brand and, I think, as a child I tried one or two of their perfumes that my mother or grandmother owned; I think I might even owned a tiny bottle of my own perfume from them though I can’t remember now what it was – I was too young.

    The perfume that you featured in this post isn’t called Dzintars though. Right there on the box it gives its name – Моя Родина (Russian) on the label and Mana Dzimtene (Latvian) on the box itself. Translated to English it is My Motherland (or Homeland – I’m not sure what will be closer).

    Now I want to remember what was that perfumes that I had…
    Undina recently posted…Dab, Spray or Roll-on?My Profile

  5. Laurels says:

    Does anyone know if dzintars in Latvian refers to both amber the stone and amber the perfume note? It’s interesting that it’s a masculine name.

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