Poivre Piquant (L'Artisan)

Nepenthe (νηπενθές), the draught that brings forgetfulness, does not necessarily flow from a divine source. Inman, the wounded Odysseus of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, receives his nepenthe from a wizened mountain crone without a name. She distills it herself, hillbilly-style -- from corn liquor and opium from wild-gathered poppies -- and serves it to her guest in a humble cup of clay. Yet this modest offering is designed to do the trick. "Our minds aren't made to hold on to the particulars of pain the way we do bliss," the old woman tells Inman. "It's a gift God gives us, a sign of his care for us."

My nepenthe comes from fancy old France in an elegant faceted glass column-- but in truth it's just as simple and down-home as Inman's, not to mention tastier. (White pepper, milk, and honey? Sounds like my kind of loving cup.) Most importantly, it eases pain by way of the considerable joy invested in each spritz-- and so what if the joy is shorter than this sentence?

In truth, once its heart-stopping initial blast of pepper is over and done, Poivre Piquant lingers on my skin so briefly as to evade not only notice but committal to memory. If not for Ari's recent and lovely review, I might have forgotten that I not only possess a sample, but have nearly drained it to the last drop. Yet longevity -- normally a perfume virtue -- becomes moot when a topnote this comely happens along. And that quality known as 'memorability' loses its allure when the veil of nepenthe permits renewed rapture with every wearing.

Each time, Poivre Piquant happens to me all over again. If this be amnesia, may I never recover.

Scent Elements: Licorice, white peppercorn, milk accord, honey