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My rip-snortin’ jaunt from ballet girl to punkette to pop singer to TV host & all the messy stuff in between
Perfumes: The A-Z Guide
Witty and provocative reviews of 1,800+ perfumes
What the Nose Knows
A fun and quirky romp through everyday smells
A cultural history of smell
The Emperor of Scent
Maverick Luca Turin's entertaining tussles with perfume and science
The Perfect Scent
An insider's look at the creation of two bestselling fragrances
A Natural History of the Senses
An aphrodisiac for all five senses
The Secret of ScentLuca Turin's scientific look at perfume
Essence and AlchemyThe voluptuous history of natural perfume.
I've been gripped by the concept of Turkish Delight since I first encountered it as a child in C. S. Lewis' Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the story, a little boy is offered enchanted Turkish Delight by the terrifying White Witch of Narnia. The treat acts as a combination truth serum/kid heroin.
I had no reference for Turkish Delight in American culture, but as a devoted candy-snarfer (Trick-or-Treat bags and Easter baskets never lasted longer than a day or two around me), I completely understood the allure of a sweet so irresistible that it would compel you to rat out your nearest and dearest.
It's only in recent years that I've finally clamped my gnashers around this wondrous confection, also known as loukhoum. The unholy texture is one of its make-or-break points: it is gelatinous (though not necessarily made of gelatin), squishy, and covered in powdered sugar. The yielding, jelly-like consistency is creepy and sensual at the same time, like biting into soft, soft skin. And here comes the kicker: classic Turkish Delight, with its blend of rose, honey, pistachio and vanilla, tastes like exotic perfume.
For this candypants fumehead, rose loukhoum is the perfect storm. I'm eating perfume! And candy! With a biting-into-flesh mouthfeel! It's unsettling and perfect.
I bought the Turkish Delight in the photos from The Turkish Deli in London's Borough Market. I was especially fascinated by one of their flavors, mastica, which is another ancient perfume ingredient.
Mastica's pine-sappy, borderline incense flavor is a perfect match for the melty-jelly texture of the sweet. It's a heapin' mouthful of synesthesia.
Movie still from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe