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Mon, Jul. 19th, 2004, 09:57 am
Not Musty

So, I get a lot of semi-spam (not quite penis enlargement, not quite anything I care about), and one of today's bits was particularly thought-provoking. The Santa Maria Novella brand of perfumes - yes, made by monks, as all good things are - made a signature fragrance for Catherine de Medici's wedding to Henry II, and they're still selling it today. I can't stop thinking about it, because it's always seemed clear to me which senses can transcend time. We'll never know what the food of 1350 tasted like, though we can replicate from recipes, nor know what music sounded like before the invention of notation - only words and pictures and objects come down to us through the years, only sight and touch survive. But I suppose smell has to be added to the list, now. Generations of men making sure the scent was pure and true have given us a window back in time.

If the perfume weren't so expensive, I'd wear it myself.

Thu, Jul. 22nd, 2004 08:21 am (UTC)
eclectician

Add taste to that.

Some cheeses claim existence from the time of Pliny (notably Cantal and Roquefort). While I would not want to suggest that they have definitely been kept exactly as they were since the 1st century AD, we do know for sure that canonisation of recipes and techniques has been going on since the high middle ages.

Emmental, for instance, is older than the perfume.

There are also breweries that create what they claim are fairly good reproductions - based on everything we know about them from archaeology - of meads and such.