It has taken a while to get things together since my last update, because I have visited Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Barcelona since then and have been overwhelmed into silence. I’m like one of those Fritzl children finally emerging from the dungeon: wide-eyed, illiterate, lost, and about to shut down from sensory overload.
But even though I feel like I’ve just eaten ten mud-cakes, eighteen croque monsieurs and forty-six tubs of rum and raisin gelato (which may not be too far from the truth, so long as you add in twenty tapas lunches and seventy-eight espressos…), and will need to lie down for a few months to let them digest, I don’t want to wait until I’ve forgotten what a croque monsieur tastes like before I get started. So forgive me if I’m only serving you slabs of icing and then oozings of cheese, followed by a slingshotted sultana into the shoulder, but I need to let the flavours out in whatever way they come!
The first slingshotted sultana: Paris Perfumes
One of the first things I noticed about Paris was how nice it smells. As opposed to London or Sydney, where you get intermittent stabs of B.O. or that otherwise ubiquitous deodorant choice for men whose nostrils have been silenced in favour of overblown advertisements pushing the blatantly false idea that women will be yours by the aircraft-hangar-full if you douse yourself liberally in this eye-wateringly strong scent: Lynx body spray; on Parisian sidewalks you drift by the most foot-stoppingly, head-turningly, breathe-in-ingly good smells. They are always ‘just enough’. You only notice it once the person has already passed. A woman in a bright blue coat and leather boots passes you with a floral, woody, understated loveliness. A 20 year old boy is somehow mature enough to choose something subtle and appealing: like grey toasted hazelnuts. An old lady with the most well-coordinated, stylin’ outfit you have ever seen on someone that age makes you turn to follow a sweet, warm scent of hot milk and almond shortbread.
Sometimes there will be a group of three ladies talking on a street corner. As you go past, the perfumes rise and fall in polite competition, saying ‘you first,’ ‘no, after you,’, ‘oh thank you, but I will only be brief. It is your turn now, and then yours, my dear.’
More sultanas to follow shortly…