26-chapter book written for the launch of Prada Candy (2013)
When it comes to confectionery conundrums, there is only one: caramel or chocolate? But, as any gourmand will tell you, deciding which one is a rather straightforward, black-and- white kind of affair. The connoisseur, the cultured, the champion of all things delicious, joyfully feminine and sweetly addictive will always opt for caramel. And it’s no coincidence that the velvety caramel notes within Prada Candy L’Eau play such an appealing, up- front-and-centre role.
Take its name for starters, one that derives from the Latin cannamellis, meaning ‘sugar cane’. The modern term is a voluptuous three-part arrangement that makes for a seductive sound. Car-a- mel... Car-aaa-mellll...
The delectable sweet has a rich and amboyant history: some believing Arabs in 1000 AD were its originators, creating karat al milh or ‘sweet balls of salt’; others preferring to stand by tales of 17th century American women blending caramelised water and sugar to create rich Candy confections.
Provenance aside, when confronted with the sight, the smell, and the taste of oozing caramel, the experience verges on the erotic. Indeed, what makes caramel so utterly desirable is its got-it- aunt-it femininity and, let’s just say it, sexiness. Western confectioners have long used sensual warm colours and voluptuous bunnies to market their gooey, sticky wares, tapping into caramel’s indulgent pleasures.
Like all the best things in life, caramel is a no- nonsense, visceral pleasure – a handful of ingredients combined with care and attention.
The preparation process is itself one of wonderment – you can actually watch the chemical reaction take place, as your ingredients (sugar, syrup, milk, butter, vanilla...) turn from a milky white colour into thick, liquid gold. What’s more, the slight burning of the milk solids and sugar under these conditions produces a delightfully syrupy and heady aroma that is often likened to Candyfloss – once experienced, never forgotten. Unsurprisingly, caramel’s place in the world of fragrance – both female and occasionally male – is one associated with sweet pleasures and suave base tones full of vanilla and balsamic. The overall olfactory sensation is one of childhood memories; warmth, happiness and sugary indulgence.
Consider its appearance: caramel is comfort- able with its distinctive, rich, butter-like tone. Its texture and consistency are part of its winning appeal – carefully blended and hardened in a smooth state that is prime for pleasurable consumption. It’s the delicacy of a sophisticated consumer – one who will appreciate its simplicity. And then there’s the distinctive flavour as the sweet enters one’s mouth; taste and smell combine to achieve a heightened sense of consumption. Because caramel is a joy for the senses: the aroma as the satisfying chewing begins; the sweet dis- solving and melting like no other. The warm lingering in the throat that remains. Like no other ingredient, caramel perfectly captures the essence that is Candy – deep, rich, sweet, syrupy and sensual. If pleasure had a smell, this would be it.