Amina Ali : The Cake Wizard of Lahore

This story is part of my Pakistan travel diaries, describing my discoveries and encounters with inspiring individuals I met during my trip.

Amina Ali is a Renaissance woman. An artist and the CEO of Lahore Children’s Center, she’s also the mastermind behind Delish, a patisserie specializing in elegant, creative cakes. When I first met her, I was so impressed by her range of talents that I had difficulty conceiving how a single person could juggle so many responsibilities. Yet, after spending more time with Amina and exploring Lahore together, I grew to realize that she is very much the denizen of her city, energetic, vibrant and multifaceted.

I first came across Delish through the stories of friends who visited Lahore. “Amina’s cakes are works of art,” said an acquaintance who often travels to this ancient city in the heart of Pakistan’s Punjab province for the Literary Festival. “What’s more, the taste is heavenly,” she added. I grew intrigued when I learned that Amina started her business at the back of her house, teaching herself the art of pastry and cake decor. Whatever I knew about Lahore suggested that such an endeavor wouldn’t be for a fainthearted person.

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Perfumes The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez

Every year brings us a few thousand new perfumes. When I stand in front of a perfume counter, I’m reminded of something I learned in my university psychology course – too much choice leads to anxiety. Thankfully, there are people who work tirelessly to make sense of the fragrance market and save us from experiencing choice overload. One such individual is Michael Edwards, whose Fragrances of the World, aka The Fragrance Bible, has been cataloguing and classifying perfumes since 1983. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are the other brave souls. Their Perfumes: The Guide 2018 includes more than 1,200 reviews of fragrances, along with tips on navigating that overwhelming perfume counter.

I’ve reviewed Perfumes: The Guide 2018 for my FT Magazine column (please click here to read it), but after I finished the piece, I had more to share from my interview with Tania Sanchez. Such as what were the authors’ favorite fragrances as they were working on the Guide, what perfumers do some of the best work today, what would Tania & Luca recommend to someone new to fragrance as well as some of their own favorite reviews.

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Lahore and Roses

I spent the past three weeks in Pakistan. I started my trip in Karachi and traveled along the Indus before crossing into Punjab and continuing to Islamabad, and finally, Lahore. I had many reasons that drove me to undertake the journey– an interest in ancient history and my personal need to understand the modern era, a desire to see places I’ve read about and to discover a country that’s often misunderstood and talked about in geopolitical terms. Above all, I wanted to see Lahore.

Lahore Lahore hai, say the locals. Lahore is Lahore. There is no other city like it, they add. I agree. It’s the place where Mughal empresses rest in the rose gardens and the new train lines edge Shah Jahan’s palaces. It’s the place where one can get lost in the old city and find oneself in a quiet courtyard full of fluttering dove wings and silvery streamers. It’s the place where ancient shrines are drowning in the clutter of shops and hawker stalls, and where the marble steps of Badshahi Mosque are so polished that they reflect the moonlight. Lahore is Lahore.

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Parfums de Rosine Le Magnolia de Rosine : Fragrance Review

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The best rendition of magnolia I’ve tried was Pierre Bourdon’s Sous Les Magnolias from his eponymous perfume line. It had the lemony ice cream richness of the southern flower, but instead of rendering it photorealistically and flatly, Bourdon structured the fragrance around a mossy-earthy chypre accord. It was a genius decision. Unfortunately, Sous Les Magnolias can be hard to find.

When I read about Les Parfums de Rosine offering Magnolia signed by Bourdon, I assumed that it would be close to his own magnolia.

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The Scents of Les Fleurs du Mal

During his lecture presented at The Perfumative conference, Dr. Martin Jaeggi called Charles Baudelaire a poet-perfumer for his ability to create scent accords: musk and tobacco, rose and amber, musk and ambergris, benzoin and frankincense, coconut oil and tar, etc.

Les Fleurs du Mal was first published in 1857, and it immediately caused a scandal. Some of the poems were deemed so outrageous to public decency that Baudelaire was tried and fined. Baudelaire managed to publish the poems in a separate volume titled Les Épaves (Scraps) during his sojourn in Brussels, but in France, the ban wasn’t lifted until 1949. Baudelaire wasn’t grateful to the Belgian laid-back attitude and penned a number of diatribes against his adopted residence and its denizens.

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Latest Comments

  • Fazal in Amina Ali : The Cake Wizard of Lahore: you def. need to smell jasmine back home. Just like rose, it is very fragrant. Until you mentioned it, I did not realize that rose back home is really more… December 15, 2018 at 7:35pm

  • Fazal in Amina Ali : The Cake Wizard of Lahore: Nihari, Halwa Puri, and Biryani, Yessssssssssssss.. Paya, nahhhhh 😀 My most favorite food from back home is Haleem but only when it is made well. Different people use such different… December 15, 2018 at 7:34pm

  • Notturno7 in Amina Ali : The Cake Wizard of Lahore: Thank you for the lovely article, Victoria! You travel to places most of us won’t get to visit but I feel inspired to keep going to faraway places and enjoy… December 15, 2018 at 5:40pm

  • Shirin in Antioxidants in Skincare – The Ordinary EUK 134: Hi, What’s the shelf life of this product.. At what temperature it has to be stored? Thanks. December 15, 2018 at 9:14am

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