Last week I bought a gorgeous new cookbook, Jerusalem, and immediately honed in on this Pinterest-worthy recipe for panfried sea bass with harissa & rosewater.
I fully intended to make my own harissa, but I have no idea where to find a good 50% of the ingredients (what the hell is a caraway seed??) Fortunately, I had the next best thing: a sample of Comme des Garcon’s Harissa! Harissa is a classic Tunisian chili paste, popular in most parts of the Middle East. I haven’t had it in years, so I’m not sure how accurate Harissa is to its namesake. According to various online recipes, which call for as many as 12 chilis, Harissa should be a lot spicier than it is. I’ve had a Bloody Mary much more recently; that would have probably been a more appropriate title for this perfume.
Perfumer Bertrand Duchafour chose to emphasize the tomato aspect of harissa over its chili or cumin. Harissa smells like tomato juice with a dash of tabasco sauce rather than a slug of spices. It’s very unusual, but not quite as exciting as the Luckyscent description, which promises “searing heat”, would have you believe. Harissa is much more fresh than it is spicy. This is “niche for beginners” perfumery, quirky and fun without being too weird.