rosewater: 14 posts

Rosewater is a by-product of rose oil distillation, but many brands on the market are simply the reconstitutions that feature rose oil or rose synthetics. I prefer the former. My favorite rosewater brands are Mymouné, Heritage Products (can be found at Whole Foods and other natural food stores), and Cortas. Mymouné and Heritage Products are especially beautiful. Cortas is sharper and zestier, but it’s very good for baking or cooking. You can find rosewater from gourmet markets, Middle Eastern and Indian stores, natural food stores and online from Kalustyan’s and Amazon.com. In Europe, check pharmacies for the floral waters, including lavender and orange blossom and verify that it is food grade.

Rhubarb Rose Sherbet

Let it be spring! Nowruz, or “new day” in Persian, falls on the spring equinox and is celebrated for the thirteen following days. This year it fell on March 20th, and now we’re in the Persian year of 1393. While Nowruz is a major festival in Iran, the holiday is also celebrated in other countries, where ancient Persian culture left its mark, such as Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Albania, India, and Turkey. The festivities came into our family with my Azeri stepmother, and along with Easter, Nowruz is one of my favorite holidays for its rich symbolism of renewal and hope. It’s also a reminder that winter’s grasp is weakening and that warm days are around the corner.

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In every home, the centerpiece of Nowruz celebrations would be a table decorated with seven items, haftseen or the seven S’s. Seven is considered a lucky number, and each item on the table beginning with the letter seen (s) in Persian has its unique meaning. For instance, seeb (apple) represents beauty, seer (garlic)–good health, serkeh (vinegar)–patience, and sekeh (coins)–prosperity. The arrangement is ornate and colorful, and people make rounds admiring each other’s haftseen tables, sharing good wishes and delicious food.

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Tisanes : Fragrant Caffeine-Free Teas

I have a tea drawer, which is hard to explain to those who either don’t drink tea or don’t drink so much that they actually need a designated tea drawer. “What do you do with it?” ask bewildered guests suspiciously eyeing the dozens of packages that I keep in a credenza in the corner of my dining room. (Those guests become even more bewildered when they see my perfume shelf, but that’s another story). Although all tea comes from the same plant, camellia sinensis, it exists in such a range of flavors and tastes that one box of Earl Grey simply doesn’t cover all of my cravings. But since high-quality tea is best bought in small quantities and drunk as quickly as possible, the bulk of my tea drawer is made up of herbs and dried flowers that I use for tisanes.

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Tisane usually refers to a non-caffeinated beverage made by steeping flowers, herbs, or spices in water. I’m very sensitive to caffeine, and after 6pm I don’t drink anything caffeinated. For this reason, linden blossom or cinnamon and honey tisane is one of my favorite ways to wrap up the day. Some infusions like linden, sage and ginger have health benefits, but I drink them for their aroma and taste. It takes less than 10 minutes to brew rose tea, but the boost you receive from a steaming cup that smells like summer itself lingers for hours.

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Pasta di Mandorle : Cream For Lily Soft Hands

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is sitting down in front of the TV in the evening with a cup of cafe blanc and a jar of Santa Maria Novella Pasta di Mandorle. I sip my orange blossom scented drink and slowly rub the speckled brown cream into my hands, knowing that in the morning I will wake up to lily soft hands and shiny nails.

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It’s a guilty pleasure, because at $50 for 1.6 oz, Pasta di Mandorle is the most expensive cream I own. When I look at the ingredient list–sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, egg yolk, virgin beeswax, and glycerin, I think that my grandmother’s home made version might just be  as good. For the price of a couple of jars of Pasta di Mandorle, I can pay for a trip to Ukraine from Belgium so I finally decided to make my own cream.

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Scented Mementos: The Story of the Porter and the Ladies of Baghdad

The Iraqi capital Baghdad is associated today with devastation and sectarian violence, and every time another story of this troubled city unfolds on the TV screen, perfume is the last thing I usually think about. And isn’t it frivolous and unnecessary anyway? But then I remember a scented memento given to me by an Iraqi friend. “In our culture, we give a fragrant flower to sweeten the pain of saying goodbye,” she said. We were in New York then, and there were neither scented roses nor jasmine, so instead she gave me a small bottle of orange blossom water. Every time I use it in my cakes or tea, I think of Muna.

 bread-seller

The tradition of sharing scents–sprinkling guests with perfume or giving them small scented gifts as they depart–has ancient roots, and with few modifications, these practices continue today. Even as Iraq has been undergoing dramatic upheavals, some things remain the same and provide a thread of continuity which becomes even more essential when nothing else is certain. When Muna describes the fragrances made by her relatives, she doesn’t just describe the sweetness of jasmine or the medicinal sharpness of saffron, she tells me about her mother and grandmother and other women who left an indelible mark on her.

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10 Ways to Use Rosewater : Perfume, Beauty & Food

Let me shower you with rose petals today. On second thought, as far as I’m concerned, roses are too good to be left only for Valentine’s Day, and whenever I can, I indulge in a bit of pink petal fantasy. Rose perfumes are great to daydream about summer, but my little secret is found in a kitchen cupboard. It’s a bottle of rosewater. I use it in my tea, splash it on my face and sprinkle the bed sheets for a delicious finale to my day. If you want everything coming up roses, it’s hard to resist its honeyed perfume.

Rosewater is the by-product of rose oil production. When the rose petals are steam distilled, the watery substance (hydrosol) that remains behind after the essential oil is removed still has a rich scent. It’s prized for its cosmetic and flavor properties, and genuine rosewater smells like a walk through a blooming garden. Commercially, it’s biggest use is in skincare and flavors. In food, it’s not only used for candy and desserts; a rose accent can add an intriguing layer of flavor to a savory dish.

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  • Polly in Bad Smells: It’s All Relative: I have a terrible problem with some flower fragrances smelling like the toilets at a camp sight from a 100 feet away (does that make sense?). It makes me quite… November 24, 2014 at 10:54am

  • Anne Sheffield in Bad Smells: It’s All Relative: I love eggs! But i hate the smell of raw egg on the fork that was used to beat them. And especially after washing it ( somehow it brings the… November 24, 2014 at 10:53am

  • Betsy in Bad Smells: It’s All Relative: I love this article! It is so interesting the individual perceptions of smell and how drastic they differ. My husband and I still talk about how my son’s dirty diapers… November 24, 2014 at 10:53am

  • Victoria in Bad Smells: It’s All Relative: Once I lived next to a coffee house and I was stumped by the fishy smell emanating from its building every morning. Took a few days to recognize it as… November 24, 2014 at 10:34am

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