martedì 19 febbraio 2013

Kiphy, an ancient Egypt scented story, part 3: Perfumer ingredient's scent description

Finally i started the making of the mitical incense: while collecting the several raw materials, i had the chance to evaluate’s their scent.
I report in this post my olfactive descriptions.

Calamus (calamus aromaticus)
A river plant of which was used the dried root (ryzome) : its scent is very particular, sweet, of raw skin, greasy, lightly milky.


Galingale (cyperus longus/rotundus)
Anothe river plant: the dried root has an iris-like scent, earthy, dry, delicate, powdery.
i wrote about this lost shrub in my previous post. Pliny the Elder describe the scent of the root as similar to the castoreum. Because the old romans know the beavers and the use of their glands in medicine, it is quite sure that they know well its scent/odor: this is why this olfactive statement cannot be neglected. So, not being possible to reach the real plant/root, to reproduce this ingredient i tried to think with my olfactive knowledge on the raw materials i know: the scented elements of the Pliny's description of Asphalatos are 3:
a) wood, b) root, c) castoreo.
So I need to obtain a scented material with an woody-earthy smell with some leather/resin notes.
To try to attain a material with the described scent, i made some trials mixing the following materials:
1)white sandalwood chips, for the woody part of the scent;
2)5% alcoholic solutin of violet leaves for the earthy part of the scent;
3)castoreum tincture.
After several trials, the scent of the final mix i choose have an earthy  decisa tonalita molto piacevole with woody-resinous note in the backgroud, very original: I choose this mix as material resembling my Kiphy’s  “Asphalatos”.

Galbanum (ferula galbanifera)
Even if was not used the resin but the dried plant and seeds, we can reasonably think that the scent of this material was very close to the resin itself: a strong scent, pungent, green, herbaceous, not too much tolerable smelled in purity.


Storax (liquidambar orientalis)
the kiphy version i choose to make (first Edfu’s recipe) expect the use of  Storax. Storax balsam is obtained  by incision of the liquidambar tree’s bark. Its scent is no-doubt balsamic, very diffusive.

Mastic (pistacia lentiscus)
the mastic that comes from Chios island was known since antiquity for its disinfectant and asettic properties. was used as the forst chewing gum for purifing breath.

Has a slight green, pleasant aromatic and warm scent.
Camphor (cinnamonum camphora)
the scent is intense, cold, hit the nasal nostrils. it is so powerful that it is possible to smell it even if close into a sealed plastic bag.
Arabic gum (Acacia species)
i found on the market the powder of arabic gum, it has a slight milky scent, almost non existent.
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)The resin from the several Boswellia trees is probably the oldest mistical material in religious use with marked fresh-citrus scent and  unique aromatic quality.

Myrrh (Commiphora Myrrha)
Together with Frankincense, it is the mistic resin par excellence. characteristic odor as aromatic liquorice, balsamic, dense, waxy, warm.
Juniper berry (juniperus oxycedrus/communis)
Juniper berries are used in Gin production: the grinded and macerated berries’ alcoholic extract is used to give the unmistakable aroma to the famous distillate.

So, here the berries grinded in the mortar give a green, herbaceous fresh scent, slighty canforaceous; after a while come out a metallic note.

We can only make hypotesys on the organoleptic quality of old egiptian wines. what the Egyptians intended as wine for sure would’nt encounter our taste. the grapes wort fermentation was not controlled as today and the resulting fermeted liquid probably had the taste that make it undrinkable; it is known that usually these “wines” were added with honey and resins just to make them more tasty and to let them last.
So i think that the scent of this kind of wines could be more like a todays common table wine, a bit aromatic and acid: as a wine that is just on the way to become vinegar. 
Oasis wine
in ancient times, every drinkable liquid made from any sugary content material was named wine; certantly the ancients understand that some fruits that were not keep  good, develop a “differenet taste and maybe they develope a technique to obtain the alcoholic liquid. Desert oasis are often cultivation places for dates , a food that was important in all middle east population diet. A date wine was certantly produced in old egypt and often called “the sweet eye of Horus”.
I choose for my Kiphy to make a “date wine” by maceratig the dried fruits in an slighty alcoholic acqueos solution (7%). after a week, filtered away the solid residue i obtain a liquid with an aromatic sweet scent.

Date syrup 
In Edfu were found 2 recipes for Kiphy: the first was taken as the “traditional” recipe, the second as the “revised” recipe. For this ingredient, the first recipe call for date syrup, while for the second recipe was honey.
The date syrup is a macerated dough of the dried fruits in water that is boiled gently til the achievement of a dark brown paste with a fruity agreable scent.

Old egyptians use to eat fresh and dried grapes, mostly the upper class. The raisins was used too for medicine and cosmetic recipes.
Their scent is sweet, caramel like, slighly mouldy.

...With this raw materials i am going to prepare Kiphy.

               "........Let Horus Eye guide my hands....."


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