Dearst APJ people, I send you my fairest greetings.
I am about to go to Singapore with my youngest son. I lived there in 2003 and have wonderful memories of the place, its people and THE FOOD! Now and then, I visit Malay hawker style food outlets to get a bit of a fix of nasi lemak. The key to the rice is coconut milk and pandan leaves. Oh, pandan… I even go so far as to buy the leaves and just scrunch them in my hand to release the scent. It has a milky green feel to it, with a definite high note that is inexplicable. The other things I simply adore about Singapore are Singlish and Gurmit Singh, the actor who has immortalised Singaporean comedy with Phua Chu Kang; a sit com about a construction business owner who pokes fun at the nouveau riche.
Eau De Nyonya by Auphorie 2016
Trawling Fragrantica last year for Asian specific scents, I found Auphorie and their Eau de Nyonya (EdN). I contacted the Au brothers to see if they still had it in stock, which they didn’t. Earlier this year, I received a very welcome message telling me they had a limited number of bottles for sale again. Naturally, I blind bought EdN on the spot and received it just days later.
Hand on my heart, EdN totally exceeded whatever expectations I had about it. I knew nothing of Luca Turin’s praise for a few of Auphorie’s scents, so I had no preconceived notions to guide me. My only concrete hope was that it wasn’t going to be a pandan kaya on toast kind of smell. I am not overly fond of gourmand smells; food smells belong solely with food. The brothers Au have done a brilliant job taking strong gourmand notes and made a wearable perfume that is a work of art.
On the Auphorie website, the notes are listed as: tapai pulut (fermented glutinous rice dessert), pandan leaf, violet, orris butter, jasmine sambac, cinnamon, chocolate, sandalwood, coconut milk, gula melaka (coconut sugar) benzoin, suede, smoke, ambergris and musk. Have I made you dizzy yet?! Together, the notes make for a heady, rich mix of all that Malays love about sweet food, YET EdN isn’t a sugar overdose to cause diabetes. It isn’t sweet at all. There is a dry, soft, almost salty element simultaneously. I think the jasmine, suede, ambergris and musk bring the composition to what we know as fine perfumery, rather than leaving EdN as a roadside sweet treat.
I work alongside a Filipino and two Malay men. The grew up in their respective countries until adulthood, so are incredibly familiar with pandan, tapai pulut, sandalwood, coconut milk and gula melaka. I asked them to smell EdN and they all had faraway looks on their faces as they breathed in deeply. They all went in for a second smell and said it reminded them of life back in the village, when life was simpler. They all found it hard to believe a perfume could be made with food notes, yet it is recognisably perfume.
As EdN is a thick extrait, I really only need one spray to my torso. I move around a lot, so my torso heats up the scent and I get suggestive wafts for hours. I did over spray the first time and realised I could not smell it! The other thing to keep in mind is that I may never get another bottle, so this baby must be nursed for a long time. There is absolutely nothing else I have smelled fragrance wise that resembles EdN. I am fortunate to have found Singapore in a bottle. EdN is old school kampung life and it brings to mind Changi as it might have been in the 1950s, long before the fast paced developments it has undergone since. May Singapore never lose what makes it charming under its veneer of wealth, modernity and desire to be taken seriously.
Have you been to Singapore? If so, what did you love about it? Have you a perfume that reminds you of the food of a place you love?
Until next time,