Sweet Tooth or Salt Cravings?

I was always the kind of person who planned her meals around desserts. I thought nothing of having a chocolate cake for breakfast and ice cream for dinner. But as time went by, my sweet tooth diminished somewhat. This morning as I was trying to pick out a pastry for breakfast, I surprised myself when I reached for a salty pretzel instead of a chocolate filled croissant.

When it comes to perfumes, on the other hand, I was never a fan of sweet, sugary blends, preferring the salty vetivers, green irises and tangy orange blossoms. Yet, as my dessert cravings diminish, I find myself craving vanilla and caramel in my fragrances. Today I’m wearing Parfums de Nicolaï Vanille Tonka and enjoying its smoky vanilla custard whipped with toasted almonds and cinnamon.

What about you? Do you have a sweet tooth or do you prefer salt, in both food and perfumes?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved.

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48 Comments

  • Elizabeth: I have always liked a balance of sweet and savory flavors in foods. In perfume it’s the same. I like Shalimar because it has bergamot and leathery notes to cut the sweetness of vanilla. But I like Poivre Piquant (it’s my favorite L’Artisan, or rather will be until Seville a l’aube is released!) because it has milk and honey to sweeten the pepper and incense. June 2, 2012 at 9:48am Reply

    • Victoria: I just discovered bitter chocolate with salt flakes, and I think that I’ve hit a perfect balance.
      You’ve reminded me how much I enjoyed Poivre Piquant, I even managed to finish a decant of it (which doesn’t happen often given the size of my perfume collection). June 2, 2012 at 9:51am Reply

  • rosarita: I love both sweet & salty foods, but now I’m old and have high blood pressure and diabetes in my family, so I don’t get to eat much of either one! I never thought I would like sweet perfumes but there are quite a few I enjoy. Vanille Tonka is my favorite vanilla, and L de Lolita Lempicka has a salty caramel note that is amplified in warm weather; delicious. June 2, 2012 at 10:27am Reply

    • Victoria: I watch my diet too, and I just feel better when I eat everything in moderation. When I was younger, it wasn’t a concern. I was also dancing professionally, so that was another extra benefit. These days my lifestyle is a bit more sedate. 🙂 June 2, 2012 at 2:44pm Reply

    • Elisa: I also like foods that are both sweet and salty, or better yet, sweet, salty and sour/tangy all at once. And I also love L de LL in the heat! June 2, 2012 at 11:51pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: Interesting question. In food: defintely salt (potatochips!!!); in perfumes both. I appreciate some ”sweet” perfumes. Long ago, I liked “White Shoulders” (does it still exist in America?) ana at times I wear with pleasure perfumes like “hypnotic Poison”, ”Songes”, Caron’s “Pour un Homme”—but never a straightforward vanilla (Guerlain, Lutens). My real favorites are Tuberose and Chypre perfumes. I don’t know what they are: Is Fracas sweet? Is Aromatics Elixir savory? Anyway, I think it is impossible to wear a sweet or flowery perfume eating something salty. For my chips/cigarette/whisky moments (not too often of coarse) I have a special perfume: Racine, MPG. June 2, 2012 at 10:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Fracas seems sweet to me, because it has so many creamy, rich notes, and Aromatics Elixir is dry and savory.
      Racine is wonderful, whatever my cravings. 🙂 June 2, 2012 at 2:45pm Reply

  • Lysa: Food-wise, I crave both depending on my mood but most often crave the savory. Best sweets of all have a dash of salt, IMO. Salted caramel? Be still my heart. In perfume, I tend to have more of a sweet tooth, but the humidity these days tends to amplify sweetness and sometimes it feels cloying. Or perhaps my tastes are beginning to change? June 2, 2012 at 10:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree–a bit of salt heightens the flavors tremendously.
      My perfume tastes definitely changed a bit, but yes, I can’t imagine wearing something overly sweet in the summer. And salty vetivers still feel comfortable regardless of the weather. June 2, 2012 at 2:47pm Reply

  • Rina: When confronted by a bowl of pretzels or candies, salty wins every time! Unless it is dark chocolate caramels with sea salt! Then, all bets are off, LOL!

    Love the “chips/cigarette/whisky moments,” Anna! I don’t have those much anymore either..Oh well, c’est la vie! Have a good weekend, everyone! June 2, 2012 at 11:11am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Wouldn’t a salty chocolate perfume be an interesting idea? Most chocolate perfumes are way way too sweet for me (Arquiste Anima Dulcis and Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 being the exceptions). June 2, 2012 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Judith DM: When it comes to fragrance, I am a sweet searcher! Not cloyingly so, but somewhere in whatever I wear is vanilla. As for food, somewhat the same. June 2, 2012 at 11:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Do you have favorite vanilla perfumes? June 2, 2012 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Ferris@Dkchocoman: With food I prefer salty especially Salt & Vineger potato chips! They are delicious, I indulge until my tongue tingles. LOL. With fragrances, I like the sweet ones. Angel Man, Tom Ford for Men, the dry down of New York Oud by Bond No 9. Tom Ford is elegant and sophisticated with it’s warm tobacco middle and sweet amber dry down. NY Oud isn’t my favorite, but when the rose/ Oud combo fades after 12 hours, what’s left is so beautiful; a touch of soft, sweet white honey and musk. June 2, 2012 at 11:36am Reply

    • Victoria: The sweet fragrances made for men are often much more palatable to me than the overly gourmands made for women. I’ve worn Angel Men in the past, and I enjoyed it more than the original Angel for its toned down sweet notes. June 2, 2012 at 7:25pm Reply

  • Laura: I avoid sugar in my diet, which has the interesting side effect of enabling my tastebuds to appreciate the natural sweetness of foods such as grains, pulses, etc … This might however mean I seek even sweeter delights in my fragrant pursuits, however, because I’m having something of a vanilla moment: Eau Duelle, Vanilia , Vanille Intense and Vanille Tonka, Vanille Absolument, Vanille Exquise… are all currently go-to fragrances.
    The chillier UK weather may also be responsible, mind you !
    On this note, have a jubilant week-end ! (see what I did there ? ) June 2, 2012 at 12:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Thank you, Laura! Same to you!

      I can completely relate to what you’re describing. I guess that at some point I simply stopped craving sweets, and some time later I noticed that I enjoyed the natural sweetness of various foods. At the same time most ready-made desserts started to seem way too sweet for me. June 2, 2012 at 7:33pm Reply

  • Cathy: Ahh… It’s salted caramel for me too. Does that mean we have achieved balance? June 2, 2012 at 12:57pm Reply

  • MB: I really can’t have one w/o the other. When I settle in for a movie or sporting event I have salty snacks on my left and sweet snacks on my right. Having said that, I bake desserts on a regular basis. The plums are starting to ripen here so the plum clafoutis will succeed the strawberry/rhubarb crumbles I’ve been turning out. As a child I used to dab vanilla extract behind my ears. That was really my first perfume. But as much as I love the smell of hot vanilla in the morning, I don’t love it in scent. I’m w/ Elizabeth on this one and vote yes! for Poivre Piquant, one of my favorite perfumes ever! (As a side note, Victoria, I was thinking of you as I planted my Black from Tula tomatoes last weekend – don’t know if you’re from the Ukraine but I know you would have appreciated the scent of tomato leaf in the sun! June 2, 2012 at 12:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Tula’s in Russia, but for some reason, this variety of tomato is described as having originated in Ukraine in my MIL’s seed catalog. There is a similar variety that my grandmother grows called Black Crimea, and it’s heavenly. I would eat those tomatoes straight from the vine and still warm from the sun… Mmmm, thank you for mentioning, you’ve brought back so many memories.

      As for baking, here is the sad part… my temporary place for this summer has no oven! So, I will have to resort to making jams and fruit compotes with all of the lovely summer produce that we’re starting to get. June 2, 2012 at 7:39pm Reply

      • maja: Do you have any recipes you can share for those jams? 🙂 I am an avid jam maker and I would love to hear about your fragrant ideas. ( the post about black tea with apricot jam and rose water was amazing and has changed the way I have my tea in the morning)

        😉 June 3, 2012 at 6:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: I will, Maja! I just bought some jars, so I will be making some jams soon.

          Glad that you liked the rose tea recipe. Andy, who shared it with me originally, came up with a heaven in a tea cup. 🙂 June 4, 2012 at 9:39am Reply

  • Allison: That’s a great question. I used to seek out floral-green compositions. I fell hard for Tilleul and Jasmal as well as Creed’s Fleur de The Rose Bulgare. But then I discovered the amazing scent of heliotrope through Apres l’ondee and L’eau d’Hiver and these inspired me to try Barbara Bui, which I have really enjoyed but I think was discontinued. So I’ve now become more open to powdery, almondy scents but I shy away from anything too sweet, such as Etro’s Heliotrope which on my skin smelled too overwhelmingly like a bakery – and I have a very strong sweet tooth! Chocolate is my biggest weakness. June 2, 2012 at 1:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Wasn’t Barbara Bui great? Its warm wrap of toasted almonds, mandarin, jasmine and sandalwood is so comforting. June 2, 2012 at 7:41pm Reply

  • Erin T: I am the only salt addict in a home full of sweet-teeth. Popcorn is my great undoing. I think I could live on air-popped or stove-top popcorn for several weeks, if needed – scurvy be damned. I am omnivorous as far as perfume goes – anything from Lolita Lempicka to Heeley Sel Marin works for me – but I probably do prefer citrus-and-salt in fragrance, too. Or salt AND sweet: like Vanille Tonka, for example, but Odalisque is my favorite PdN. June 2, 2012 at 4:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, salt and sweet is the best, and Odalisque falls squarely in that category. 🙂 June 2, 2012 at 7:44pm Reply

  • Undina: I can’t live just on sweets but a dessert is still a very important part of my life and I’d give up many other things before sweets. It wouldn’t have to be a chocolate croissant for breakfast (maybe a regular butter one with, let’s say, salmon) but I do not see myself eating pretzel – why to waste calories? 🙂

    Gourmand or just sweet perfumes aren’t “my thing” but I do not mind them from time to time. Love Jo Malone’s Sweet Milk. June 2, 2012 at 5:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: A properly baked pretzel like the one in the photo is worth every single calorie for me! But even back in my strong sweet tooth days, I would give up a cake before I would give up a slice of properly baked bread. My weekday breakfasts are pretty much the same–oatmeal or fruit and yogurt, but the weekend breakfasts turn into something far more elaborate. June 2, 2012 at 7:47pm Reply

  • maggiecat: I love both sweet and salty – and like others here have discovered the joys of sea salt, dark chocolate, and caramel! I begin to crave sweeter scents when the weather gets cooler – not so much now, when florals and vetiver are my preference. June 2, 2012 at 5:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you like the combination of sweet and salt, I want to share a new treat I’ve discovered recently. Take a slice of country bread, grate bitter chocolate on top and run it briefly under the broiler to melt the chocolate. Then sprinkle some sea salt on top and drizzle the whole thing with a bit of olive oil. It’s so delicious! June 2, 2012 at 7:52pm Reply

      • Ferris@Dkchocoman: That does sound delicious! June 2, 2012 at 8:50pm Reply

      • behemot: Wow! Sounds like this is something for me. Thank you. June 3, 2012 at 11:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: You’re both welcome! It’s so simple, but addictive. June 4, 2012 at 9:40am Reply

  • Naheed: Oh dear!! I am a heavy sweet tooth and to keep my mouth sweet all day, I nibble jaggery every now and then. But talking of fragrances, I like, woody fragrances and sometimes floral and occasionally gourmand fragrances also please me. The notes I like in fragrances that bring sweetness and a little creamy feel are vanilla, licorice and star anise. June 3, 2012 at 6:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Star anise is such an interesting note, and I love it in the woody blends. Plus, the licorice notes in Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant give its dark woods such a great twist. June 3, 2012 at 6:23pm Reply

  • Vanessa: I am 60% savoury and 40% sweet in my food cravings, at a rough guess, but like you, I find myself increasingly drawn to sweeter, more gourmand fragrances, so the percentages are probably reversed now. In my case I blame my hormones : – ) Do you have any theories as to why your tastes may be shifting? June 3, 2012 at 3:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that my tastes change a bit all the time, particularly since I always keep on testing and trying new things. The more one is exposed to something, the more one begins to enjoy it, and this is definitely the case with me and gourmand fragrances. June 3, 2012 at 6:28pm Reply

  • HB: Fabulous query and topic. If I had to give up either sweet or salty, I’d leave the sugar behind for the bitter, salty, sour and savory world. As much as I enjoy salted caramel, a good chocolate, or piles of luscious fruit in a sweet crepe, there is something of elemental importance in a savory dish that makes me feel like I am at home.

    In fragrance I do love a sweet one, although the herbaceous and sharp really do something more than make me smile. They just get to the root of my soul. Case in point: Today I wore Nirmala and then *happened* by Sephora just to see if there was something not in my current lineup of decants that I wanted to try. I wandered past the Angel display and sprayed a tester strip…and was reminded how much I adore that fragrance for it’s dark, bitter depth in contrast to what I wore today. June 4, 2012 at 1:20am Reply

    • Victoria: “They just get to the root of my soul.” I just love the way you put it. 🙂

      I never thought that I would say it, but between sweet and sour I would definitely pick sour! Of course, sweet and sour combination is wonderful, which is why I love Thai and Vietnamese food so much–the balance of flavors in these cuisines is amazing. June 4, 2012 at 9:43am Reply

      • HB: Mmm, now you have me thinking of making some delightfully tangy dressing for larb. I also love those sweet/sour blends. June 5, 2012 at 11:26am Reply

  • Fernando: Salt, absolutely, especially when it comes to food. In perfume, bitterness and smokiness are attractive, but not sugar. June 4, 2012 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Bitterness and smokiness always catch my attention when it comes to perfumes. June 5, 2012 at 9:36am Reply

  • Austenfan: I think I prefer savoury in food, and have an unexpected sweet “nose” in perfumes. I love Sacrebleu, Kiss me Tender, loads of ambers, vanilla’s. But then I also really like the more savoury perfumes. Slight preference for the sweet in olfactory pleasures, though. June 4, 2012 at 5:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: I enjoy many of your sweet favorites, and Sacrebleu is one of my top favorites right now. It’s so cold here and rainy (although today we finally got some sunshine,) so maybe that’s another reason why I’m gravitating towards sweet, enveloping blends. June 5, 2012 at 9:38am Reply

  • Joan: I’ve always preferred sweet, in both food and perfume. Sweet tea, Chinese bubble tea, ice cream, it’s all good. My favorite perfume is Fracas, and that’s pretty sweet. I like sour too. June 5, 2012 at 7:06pm Reply

  • Emily: Hi Victoria- love your blog! What fascinating post and replies! I consume sweets with gusto but one of my all-time fave scents is Muscs Koublai Khan. My pulse literally quickened upon first sniff. On a different note (no pun intended), I prefer fresh and bright-tasting foods with minimal cooking but my regular scent is the smoky and sandy Chergui. And shout-out to my partner/love of my life since I also fell in love while wearing Chergui. He loves it too! 🙂

    Please keep up the fantastic work! June 7, 2012 at 2:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Emily! 🙂
      I heard such scary things about MKK (that it was skanky, animalic, putrid) that I was reluctant to try it. When I finally tried it, I discovered that it was such a beautiful fragrance. Very sensual, of course. Glad to meet another fan (actually, there are a few of MKK lovers among the commenters here on BdJ). June 7, 2012 at 3:30pm Reply

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