Before CK One, There Was Tabac Blond

Vintage Tabac Blond

Vintage Tabac Blond

The year is 1927. John Welles and his two best friends, Sam Feldman and Claude Willoughby, are planning a clandestine night on the town. Their destination is a speakeasy hidden on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland. For the young medical students, the night will be both thrilling and disastrous.

Before John slips out for the night, he sneaks a dab of his Aunt Prudence’s perfume. This might seem like an extremely feminine thing to do until you become familiar with the scent he chooses to borrow.

One of my favorite subjects researched for my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles, was perfume from the early 1900s. It is how I discovered Tabac Blond. The perfume was perfect for Prudence, a rebel-before-her-time class of woman who smokes, and John, by the simple fact that he’s male. Let me explain.

Ernest Daltroff

Ernest Daltroff

Tabac Blond was created in 1919 by perfumer and founder of the house of Caron, Ernest Daltroff. The fragrance was intended for women who smoke cigarettes, the symbol of women’s liberation and Parisian chic. What made Tabac Blond appealing were the leathery top notes, usually found in men’s fragrances, blended with a feminine floral bouquet. The added scents of undried (blond) tobacco leaves and vanilla made it desirable to both men and women.

Many reviewers insist upon a decanting of vintage Tabac Blond complaining that the new version doesn’t present as well. I’ll have to take their word for it as I do not own either and have yet to experience them in real life. It is, however, my goal to do both.

Artwork inspired by Tabac Blond

Artwork inspired by Tabac Blond

If you’re a lover of rich, exotic, glamorous perfume, Tabac Blond may be for you. Don’t let the price tag deter you from your passion. Whether you purchase the new version or a vintage decanting, there will be a small investment. I believe this is testimony to the allure of the fragrance. Be warned, however: wearing Tabac Blond may encourage behavior such as wild dancing, excessive drinking, and dressing like a flapper or F. Scott himself.

Yesterday’s Perfume

Perfume Projects

Christmas Morning Hot Cocoa

Christmas Day has a special quality that is difficult to describe. For me, as a child, it began long before the day arrived. My excitement was wrapped up in anticipation of my family gathering in the morning and spending the entire day together. I admit the presents were a bonus, but what I’m talking about is the sacred, magical characteristics unique to Christmas.

Creamy Hot Cocoa

Creamy Hot Cocoa

I tried to capture the essence of what I mentioned above in my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles. The year is 1917 and Johnny is still a boy living on the farm with his family in Harford County, Maryland. The morning is almost ruined by an unwelcome visitor before Johnny’s stepmother, Collie, comes to the rescue.

Collie surprises the family with slices of pound cake and hot cocoa in addition to their usual fare. The food in this scene came from a memory I have of my mother waking my brother and me with slices of pound cake and hot cocoa one summer morning. I thought the rich cake and hot beverage would translate well to winter dining.

Sometimes the terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa are used interchangeably and incorrectly. Hot chocolate is milk and cream based with vanilla and shavings of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. In some recipes, the quantity of chocolate used can make the drink so thick one has to spoon it out of the cup. Hot cocoa, on the other hand, is made with water, a little cream, sugar, and cocoa powder. This version is thinner with a more concentrated chocolate flavor.

For my novel, I chose to include the recipe my mother makes. It’s somewhere between the above-mentioned methods. My best memories of hot cocoa are made with the following recipe. Enjoy!

One 8 – 10 oz. mug per person

Whole Milk

Sugar (I use raw sugar)

Hershey’s Cocoa

Vanilla

Use one mug to measure out the quantity of milk needed, enough for each person, into a saucepan. Add 1 t. vanilla per person to the milk and warm on the stove. While the milk/vanilla is heating, measure 2 t. Hershey’s cocoa into each cup and 2 – 3 t sugar (depending on how sweet you like it.) When the milk/vanilla mixture is steaming, ladle it into each cup. Stir until sugar and cocoa are thoroughly mixed in. Garnish as desired.

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