Cambienne: An Ever Changing River of Perfume.

cambienne2018The French word for change is Cambienne.

“Cambienne” is also the name that Fabienne gave to a series of perfumes that began in 2007. Each year’s Cambienne began in the first quarter of that year. It is made only once. After so much of that first Cambienne is sold, the remaining is used as the base for the next Cambienne, and so on throughout the year. Each new blend builds upon the past, growing ever more complex throughout the year. A truly inspired idea.

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus held that all things constantly change and that change is the essence of the universe. In his most famous dictum, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”, Heraclitus points out that the river is in constant change as the water flows from one moment to the next or from one place to another.

Two weeks ago, I consulted an old book of early Greek philosophy. I turned to the chapter on Heraclitus. After a few pages, I came upon a line that took me by surprise: “…even the posset separates if it is not stirred!” We believe it is time to stir things up a bit.

We will be starting a new Cambienne for 2018, beginning with the first Cambienne recipe that Fabienne created and released on March 1, 2007. Given Heraclitus’ consideration of the posset in terms universal, Possets’ first Cambienne of 2018 will be named “The Same River Once”. It will be released on March 1, 2018, exactly 11 years after Fabienne’s first Cambienne release.

After that, at some point, when the muse reveals herself, a new Cambienne will flow forth.

by Tom

Cheers to Tapputi

800px-Myths_and_legends_of_Babylonia_and_Assyria_(1916)_(14801964123)I have a lame excuse that tends to keep me from following through on ideas: someone has already done this thing, and surely much better than I.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people find themselves in the thralls of similar thought processes. Especially in today’s society, with social media providing potentially distorted and incomplete stories, it’s easier than ever the compare oneself to others and their accomplishments.

In the same vein, though, it’s easy to find inspiration and ideas by looking at people who have gone through the trial and error to develop a skill or accomplishment that you admire.

No one can really be the first at anything anyway—at least, not for certain. The best we can point to is the first record of something.

Like the first perfumer, for instance. Who could it have been?

The first record of a perfumer is one of a chemist named Tapputi who was mixing up scents around 1200 BC. This, anyway, is when a certain cuneiform tablet from Babylonian Mesopotamia was written, mentioning her role as a perfumer and overseer of the Royal Palace. The tablet describes Tapputi and an assistant as being perfumers who used methods like distillation to extract the essences of various materials.

Not only is Tapputi the first perfumer on record, but she is the first known chemist, too.

To those websites I found who referred to Tapputi as a “he”—I scoff at you and am saddened by your assumptions. There are entire books dedicated to shining light on non-male scientists who have had a huge influence on the field throughout history. Check out the aptly-named “Women of Science: Righting the Record,” a collection of essays written by female scientists about female scientists. Or look at “Women in Chemistry: Their Changing Roles from Alchemical Times to the Mid-Twentieth Century, ” by Marelene F. Rayner-Canham and Geoffrey W. Rayner-Canham. Both mention Tapputi as the first chemist and perfumer. Let us give credit where credit is due.

In the latter publication, the two authors speculate that perfumery would have come naturally to women because so many of the materials and tools would have been tools also used with culinary endeavors in the kitchen. Cooking and baking in particular are definitely their own forms of chemistry. I remember fondly my first day of chemistry class in high school when my teacher brought in cookies made of three different recipes and had us compare their recipes with their tastes. You could have a similar type of fun with three different perfumes which, like cookies, each have their own specific recipes.

Was Tapputi a good cook? I don’t know. What did her perfumers smell like? I don’t know that either. What I do know is that Tapputi did the thing—and probably well, if people were making records of her work. Perhaps she had some unknown mentor that taught her about distillation and mixing essences. Or maybe she taught herself everything on her own. One thing is certain—she didn’t let any ideas about unoriginality stop her. She experimented, discovered, and produced perfumes that people could enjoy.

by Katrina Eresman