Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Foie Gras

My taste in fragrance has taken so many turns over the course of my (almost!) one year of blogging. I've gone from despising to loving the same scent. I've gone from saying no to powdery scents and violets (calling them Lolita scents which I still think they are), to being hooked on them. I've changed my mind about previous loves which today I don't think are all that (but maybe still love for nostalgic reasons). Taste can change...and yet...I still can't like foie gras.

Well, no matter how my taste has so-called evolved over the years, I still don't like chicken skins and meat fats, either, and I'm not about to try to see if my taste will change. However, with foie gras, I still have a mission to understand the hype. I liken it to Guerlain Mitsouko--a smell I dislike about 360 days out of the year, until I get in one of my strange moods and then, Mitsouko becomes a "work of art" in my eyes and just barely wearable.

When I ask about taste hierarchy, I'm not even talking about quality but rather why certain styles are considered to be in higher taste than others. I learned last year in submitting my music to TAXI that even critics listen to music predominantly based on styles (for example, more acoustic or Classical/European instrumentation is called "elegant"). Likewise, I've come to see that racial stereotypes are prevalent in perfumery, such as cold climate flowers considered to be more elegant than tropical--subversive references to racial/geographical hierarchy are everywhere. By the way, the notion that colder climate people are supposedly more evolved (not) explains why I had to suffer growing up in a house that was always cold ("so your brain doesn't turn to mush" said my Japanese parents...and no, I didn't really suffer--it wasn't freezing or anything--just cold!). I've also been brought to light the problem of scent stereotyping ("your taste is black" said one person who was taken aback by my love for tuberose. Does that make tuberose as "cheap" as Dance music is perceived?) Why is Chanel No.5 so popular and considered the pinnacle of elegance in perfumery? Was Coco Chanel's lucky number 5 significant in any way to represent the ultimate woman or what?

When it comes to wine, we always hear that the full-bodied reds are better than the best whites, and that a dirty type of taste is better than superclean. Who decides these trends and why do they seem so etched in stone? Also, why don't people question these decisions? How do you just take them at face value--does our own taste count or are we all too afraid of being uncool? Is what's "best" decided by majority rule or by something else? Everything in trendmaking seems symbolic in some way thus far...and of course, why does there have to be a best--so people won't ever stop competing to be the best themselves? Can a person be the "best" by being aesthetically "correct"? It all makes me wanna scream because I know it's all bullcrap, the same as saying Classical music is simply the best (and I know plenty of people who wouldn't argue this fact!).

Back to perfumery: here, too, the classic French perfumes are revered as being superior (not that I would argue this, ever--never said I didn't sell my soul to the perfume gods), and the type of fragrance considered the greatest is like foie gras: rich and strange. Back to food: Like Mitsouko, foie gras is at once dark and warm and oily, a little eerie how it's fatty like that and it's not at all cheery or sweet. Salt can't save it. I just can't fake it! Come to think of it, why are the fattiest pieces of sushi considered delicacies, too, like toro and amaebi, neither of which I can stomach because as open as I like to think I am, I just think they're too freaking weird?

Fragrance of the Moment: Hilary Duff With Love