Sunday, January 25, 2009

Strange Fruit: The Flavor and Fragrance of Feijoa

The flavor and fragrance of feijoa defies categorization. On sight, the fruit resembles a cross between an elongated lime and a kiwi. The nose expects to smell something green, but the immediate impression of a feijoa is a tropical mélange that evokes guava, strawberry, pineapple and violet notes. There is something about the green element in feijoa that is at once familiar, yet seemingly incongruous and medicinal. The culprit is methyl benzoate, an ester that is evocative of eucalyptus with wintergreen and berry facets. If you have a keen sense of smell, try sniffing beneath the chocolate, caramel and vanillic elements in the Thierry Mugler classic Angel; you will detect a methyl benzoate effect.

Some perfume lovers aren’t partial to olfactive and gustative combinations in perfumery, and find such contrasting fusions to be rough-hewn. These fusions exist in nature and their successful application in perfumery requires a deft hand. The appeal of gourmand contrasts depends on whether the contrasts create more compatibility than confusion. Champaca Absolute, a new addition to the Tom Ford Private Blend Collection, is an example of a balanced gourmand scent. The fragrance riffs on the mouthwatering fruitiness inherent in champaca (a tropical flower) by utilizing harmonious contrasts of bergamot, cognac, tokaji wine, vanilla bean, amber and marron glacé. A touch of violet lends a powdery quality that sugar dusts the lush floral elements in Champaca Absolute. What keeps this fragrance from becoming a hackneyed fruity floral is a green element that is present on skin throughout the drydown.

Eating a feijoa is a wonderful way to understand the nature of harmonious contrasts via taste and smell. When sliced, the yielding and juicy flesh reveals a jelly-like pulp that is divided into quadrants. The flesh closest to the rind is sweet, creamy and slightly gritty. Feijoas have an ambrosial flavor and taste exactly like they smell. Finding them can be a bit of a challenge as they are native to southern Brazil, northern Argentina, western Paraguay and Uruguay. Feijoas are commercially grown in New Zealand and California, so you may be able to find them at gourmet markets. The fruit can also be ordered from Melissa’s Produce. The cost is $24.95 for ten, plus shipping. For more information call (800) 588-0151.


The image of feijoas comes from Daley's Fruit Tree Blog.

Tom Ford Champaca Absolute is priced at $180 for 50ml and $450 for 250ml. It is available at select Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stores nationwide.