Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Mexican Food Flower

I LOVE Mexican food. It is my all-time favorite type of cuisine. I suffered unbearably in Okinawa where there was no decent Mexican food to be found. I’ve been on a binge ever since returning to the U.S. Mike and I have tried nearly every Mexican restaurant within a reasonable radius. I cannot get enough enchiladas, chile rellenos, and, of course, chips and salsa. While I would happily consume Mexican food at every meal, the smell of it in my garden turns my stomach.

I am not referring to the scent of crushed cilantro leaves or bruised chiles, but mignonette, Reseda odorata. I started Josephine Bonaparte’s favorite flower from seed for the promise of an exquisite scent much in vogue during the Victorian era. The blossoms and their famed fragrance make numerous appearances in romantic literature – tucked into bosoms, love letters, and bedclothes. The scent has been described as a deliciously sweet raspberry, but to my nose, it smells of cumin and lard.

From others’ descriptions, I knew the plant would be weedy and the flowers inconspicuous. I tucked my mignonette between showier flowers so that only its heavenly scent would advertise its presence. Thankfully, the smell is faint, so I hardly notice the plant at all. It looks like a weed and smells like kitchen leftovers. Yum.

It may not be mignonette’s fault. Perhaps the genes that make me swoon over the scent of lilies and even appreciate the muskiness of cleome also cause me to gag over mignonette’s odor. I’m curious to know, how do you find mignonette’s fragrance?


Blogger Jenn said...

I ought to try some.

Since I can't abide the heavy scented lilies, this mignonette may be a fragrance I can enjoy!

How do you enjoy the smell of the hosta family? I love this one, and have some old august lilies that I am eagerly anticipating their upcoming bloom... can't wait to stick my nose in that pristine white blossom and enjoy!

And I can't smell honeysuckle bush. At best I get a sort of dry polleny tickle at the back of my throat.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

I've never heard of this flower before, let alone smelled it, so I couldn't tell you. But your description of it doesn't really get me running out to find one either. YUCK!

Although I LOVE Mexican food too, I find that a lot of the spices that are used to make it smell like B.O. Not real appetizing.

10:27 AM  
Blogger firefly said...

Never having smelled mignonette, I can't tell you my reaction, but I do react similarly overall to different flower fragrances: some I love, others make me want to hurl.

Hyacinth, tazetta daffodils, and hoya are really, really annoying, while sweet pea, privet hedge, Amazon lily, lilac, and rosa rugosa are really enjoyable.

I think it's interesting how different people react to and also describe fragrances: Hoya lacunosa was described as 'cinnamon' and 'chocolate' in the catalog, but to me it smelled kind of like the aftermath of a cat in a litterpan.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

I love fragrant hosta flowers! When presented with unidentified hostas to swap or buy, I always choose the solid green hoping that it will be Hosta plantaginea.

8:14 AM  

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