Happy Sukkot + Etrog's 1st Anniversary

Etrog (Citron) by Ayala Moriel
Etrog (Citron), a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Happy Sukkot and blessed harvest holiday to all my Jewish friends, customers and readers!

This is the 1st anniversary of Etrog Oy de Cologne, and a perfect opportunity to celebrate the closing of one cycle of harvest for me, and thank you for receiving Etrog with so much warmth, enthusiasm and support.

It is for you that I create my perfumes, and it means so much to me that I am able to continue doing what I am doing and put food on the table for my tiny family while pursuing my passion. May this year be - both fragrant and tasty, good deeds and learning, just like the elusive Etrog fruit.

On a community effort note, which is what made Etrog so special: if any of you have leftover Etrogim in the Greater Vancouver area, and would like to donate them at the end of Sukkot - that would be most appreciated. Their delightful zest will be used to create a limited edition tea!

Etrog Oy de Cologne

Just in time for Father's Day, our new Etrog Oy de Cologne is now available online!

Due to its delicate flavour and sweet perfume, citron (Citrus medica, or Etrog in Hebrew) garnered mythical significance like no other citrus fruit. It is one of the 4 species in Sukkot, alongside myrtle, willow and palm. Etrog symbolizes the heart, and is said to represent a complete, balanced person: one who has both knowledge and learning, as well as good deeds.

And like all good things, citron fruit is rare, and its essences is even more difficult to find. Therefore, the perfumer had to tincture her own: fresh organic fruit was tinctured by her family in Israel, and the rabbi of downtown Vancouver donated his family's Etrogim for 3 consecutive years. Thanks to this community effort - the first "Oy de Cologne"!

Ayala Moriel's Etrog Oy de Cologne is a modern twist on a timeless classic: citron zest is paired with pomelo peel to accentuate its subtle floral-citrus aroma, alongside green myrtle and Japanese mint to balance its fruity sweetness. Balsam poplar buds created a honeyed, pulp-like texture alongside Australian lemon myrtle and citron leaves. Ancient olive and incense resins make a lasting impression.

Families: Citrus, Citrus Floral

Top notes: Citron (Etrog) Tincture, Japanese Mint, Pomelo Peel Tincture, Green Myrtle

Heart notes: Balsam Poplar Buds, Lemon Myrtle, Petitgrain Cedrat, Honey Absolute

Base notes: Frankincense , Olive Tree Resin, Ambergris, Opoponax

First Day of Autumn

New season, new beginnings!

Today is Sukkot eve AND the first day of Autumn. It's considered a magical yet risky and dark time of transition, which caught me a little off-guard this time, as I'm immersed fully in teaching my week-long course about the Oriental Fragrance Family.

This is the season that replaces growth and abundance with diminishing light. Like a waning moon is preparing itself for a new one. It's a time of uncertainty, reflection and preparation for colder, darker days when natural resources are more sparse and rare... That's the time when one needs to stock-up on all that's needed to survive for the upcoming season, on every level - Physically, this is the harvest season, where stocking up on food, fire-logs begins; and preparing warm clothes as well as getting the shelter protected and sealed against rain, snow and cold winds. From a young age I learnt that the meaning of the holiday of Sukkot is to make us more appreciative of having a permanent home or shelter, rather than a tent of a tabernacle that is open to all winds and rainfall can penetrate it easily from above. Experiencing the first rain in Israel usually happens when we sleep in our Sukkah... It's exciting, even if very uncomfortable. And it's a relief when at the end of the week, we can go into our warm beds and enjoy a sense of security...

Socially, this is the time for families, friends, neighbors and communities to get together, support each other, celebrate and thank for the abundance we're blessed with. And also making sure everyone else who's less fortunate will still not be left behind. In the following week, every Sukkah (and in my case - my home; because I do not have a yard to build one in; and also because I'm not exactly religious - I just like to keep the connection with my ancestors and with the traditions I grew up with - even if just by blogging about them and connecting them to my perfume and artwork). So I hope my humble home will be blessed with guests this coming week and in the future as well.

Spiritually, transitions are a great challenge as they push us forward against our will and against our constant illusion that we have the option of stepping up the ladder of growth, dwelling on the past or being stuck wherever we are. We grow whether if we like it or not, and whether if we accept it or not. And growth is painful, especially because unlike the snake, we don't have the ability to get rid of the old skin completely... So when we grow, we feel the stretching of our soul and it may feel as ugly as stretch marks for a while, but not for long. We will soon feel comfortable and fresh in our new skin and ready to embark onto the next big journey!

Emotionally, this is where perfume and the senses comes into place for me, as I find great comfort and refuge in anything that is fragrant and sensual - from the colours of the changing leaves (regardless of how cliche this is!) to the textures of fall attire (wool, suede, tweed, cardigans and tights all over again) find fall scents to be particularly soothing to my soul. The scent of burning leaves, mossy undergrowth in the forest, the chill of the cooling ocean in the evening, mushrooms, the aromas of spicy pastries and chai tea, roasted vegetables, dried fruit and burning resinous incense.

This holiday I'm going back to working on my Etrog perfume and I'm very curious to see how it unfolds. It's not a particularly autumnal scent, becuase I'm planning on it to be an exotic eau de cologne type of scent; but it is very strongly connected to this season and this holiday and there is no better time to do it!

Happy Sukkot to all of you who are celebrating; and if you live in the city, drop by for some chai :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:my back yard

Back to Citron

Etrog, originally uploaded by BecomingJewish.Org.

After a year of break from my Etrog project, I'm getting back to designing this perfume. It is probably going to be more of a cologne than a perfume though... And here lays the challenges - technical as well as creative:
1) Etrog (or citron - aka Citrus medica) essential oil is nowhere to be found to the best of my knowledge
2) Etrog fruit is just as rare. The Jews seem to be the only ones trading in it in North America, and the fruit starts at $40 each (you usually need to buy this with the whole set of "Arba'at ha Minim" - the 4 species of Sukkot.
3) Because of this rarity, it is neither easy to make tincture of the fruit, nor is it easy to remember how the scent smells like and stay true to the inspiration!
4) Last but not least - what I'm trying to create is more of an Eau de Cologne scent rather than a full blown perfume. This is the only way I have a chance of letting this delicate note truly shine, rather than being a mere top note!

I'm back to the lab and the drawing board this morning with my Etrog perfume. My 1st two mods of last year utilized a Yemenite Etrog tincture my mother made for me from organically grown fruit from the village. That year I also created my own Etrog tincture from the over-priced fruit here, possible only thanks to the courtesy of Rabbi Binyomin Bitton of Chabad Downtown, who donated to this project the 3 etrogim that he and his sons used throughout the holiday, and that received all the thorough blessings possible. I added to that my own personal etrog (less blessed, admittedly). And I tinctured this with my 1st year's students last fall, after Sukkot was over.

I created 2 mods last year, and kept them relatively simple. I used the abovementioned etrog tincture from the village, pomello tincture from an unusually fragrant and unwaxed pomelo that I completely luckily stumbled upon one day in a Chinese grocery store... A little bit of Japanese mint and rosemary verbenone, Japanese citron (yuzu), and a few fixatives: just benzoin in one, and benzoin and hinoki in the other.

I was much less than impressed with either of these, but had to let my frustration rest for a while before getting back to it. This morning seemed to be a good time to continue... Even though I feel I will need to double the concentration of the etrog tincture with more etrogim from this Sukkot in order to get the right result!

Etrog has a very fine aroma, not so much like citrus - more so like flowers and pineapple. It's hard to capture that, but funnily enough, my pomelo tincture seems more true to it than the actual etrog tincture... It has to have a fine balance between sweetness and dryness. It's a very, very elegant note and not at all like any other citrus (except for pomelo, perhaps).

So this morning, I've blended the same tinctures and yuzu, but also added some blood orange, green lemon and organic lemon, and the same herbs as before. I also fleshed this out with some florals - neroli and orange blossom absolute, petitgrain bigarade and lemon petitgrain. I fixed this with benzoin, frankincense, cypress, ambergris and olive resin tincture. I'm still feeling like a lot is missing and I'm quite sure I know what I want to add: green myrtle oil (which I thought I had but I don't!) and also citron petiitgrain, which I'm out of as well and love (it's a very rare oil to find, but not as rare as citron fruit peel, which I've never came across, ever!). And as I said, a stronger citron tincture, by adding more peels to last year's tincture. This is going to be at least a 3 years project, which can be on one hand really intimidating, but on the other hand - I think this is the beauty of the art of perfume: timing is everything, and the perfume has to ripen not only in the vat, but also in the perfumer's soul.

Happy Sukkot!

Etrog, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Dear SmellyBlog Readers,
Wishing you a happy Sukkot and harvest season.
This year I have bought my own citron fruit for the first time and I'm very excited! I will be posting pics and tell you more about my citron odyssey, as I'm on a journey for the 2nd year now to create an etrog perfume. This year it has an even more special meaning than ever and I hope by the end of the holiday I will have enough essence to actually make it.
The fruit cannot be used until after Sukkot is over, so I must pray for patience first and foremost!
Hag Samecah,

P.s. the above photo is from last year. Now I'm off to assemble my Etrog and Lulav et al and to dinner with my daughter and brother who's just arrived last week and is already cooking for us!

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