You say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Leather’


When people who had been living in the same country for the most part of their lives and hadn’t traveled much move to a new and unfamiliar place, it’s a common situation that, at least in the beginning, they try not to embrace new environment but to adapt it to their needs and expectations. And they get frustrated when new environment pushes back.

One of my complaints after I moved to the U.S. was a taste of tomatoes. I remembered how great tomatoes that my grandmother grew in her garden were. I could eat them as is or with a little salt just biting from the fruit. Of course, at Grandma’s those were special variety tomatoes grown with love and care. But even those tomatoes that we would pick up at farms to where we were taken from schools and colleges with some strange notion to teach us to work were great.


With the experience of living in the new place comes the understanding that sometimes if you can’t find something that was so popular in another country it’s because there is no demand for it; if you do not like something, there’s a chance that you’re getting that something of not the best quality; and if something isn’t as good as you remember it to be, it might be because you are not in your twenties any more.

So at some point I persuaded myself that I was just buying wrong tomatoes and switched to local heirloom tomatoes during the season. Those tasted better but still not exactly how I remembered ripe tomatoes from a vine. “I’m not twenty anymore; tomatoes are just fine…” – I told myself and stopped thinking about it… until I read this article. I wasn’t that far off after all: American tomatoes suck.

What does it have to do with perfumes? – are probably asking those of you who made it to this point.

For a while cluster tomatoes were my answer to the lost tomato quest. They weren’t much better than any other variety I tried but at least the scent of the vine, on which they came, reminded me of those wonderfully flavorful tomatoes from my childhood. And when I tried this new perfume it reminded me of the scent of a tomato stem.

Cognoscenti Tomato Leather

Scent No.16 Tomato Leather by Cognoscenti – created in 2012 by Dannielle Sergent, notes include tomato leaf, clary sage, linden blossom, leather, black agarwood, benzoin, frankincense, myrrh and tobacco. I don’t know what is that with different companies and the numbers, but, in my opinion, it’s an awful idea to name perfumes with numbers if you’re not Chanel. I’m glad Cognoscenti decided to go with a subtitle for at least two of their perfumes.

Other than tomato leaves (stem), I do not smell any of the notes listed. I’m not saying there are no other notes there, the perfume has some complexity but the notes are blended in such a way that I do not recognize even those that I usually can easily pick out – linden, agarwood and tobacco. I smell something that I attribute to the “leather” part of the name but leather in Tomato Leather doesn’t remind me any other leathers I’m closely familiar with.

Tomato Leather is a truly unisex perfume: there is nothing daring in wearing it either by a man or a woman. I wonder if it has any sweetness to it: I cannot smell it at all but there might be something that my nose doesn’t register.

Cognoscenti launched its line just a couple of months ago during the First Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco; and recently they’ve added an online store where you can buy samples* for all three perfumes from the line. You can buy bottles as well but I assume you’d like to test them first.

Cognoscenti Perfumes

I like almost everything about Cognoscenti – the reasonable number of perfumes in the initial collection, design of their bottles, packaging and samples availability. “Almost” because I wish they had smaller bottles – 30 ml (or even less). I think that Cognoscenti’s perfumes are very interesting and unusual. I’m just not sure that I need 50 ml of any of the two scents that I liked. But I’m tempted because I like them and would love to wear from time to time. I’ll see what to do once my samples are gone.


Images: tomatoes – my friend M., perfumes – my own.

* Disclaimer: I got my samples from the brand at the Fragrance Salon not for the review; recently I won the random draw for another sample set at Cafleure Bon where you can read Tama’s review for the line. I haven’t been approached by the brand or compensated in any way.

UPDATE: Now the brand offers 5 ml travel bottles



69 thoughts on “You say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Leather’

  1. I love, love, love tomatoes, but I don’t know if I would want to wear them as a personal scent. Still, this sounds worth trying. Although for some reason “Tomato Leather” sounds really gross to me, like the tomatoes have gone bad and gotten leathery. LOL


    • It was easier for me: this name was just a combination of words, slightly more understandable than most of those French names I can’t even pronounce ;)
      I won’t say run and try immediately but if you get a chance, do it – you might be pleasantly surprised.


      • I do love the smell of tomatoes, so maybe I really would enjoy it. I think it’s really the name more than anything that bothers me, which I know is silly.


  2. Tomato and leather sounds like a really imaginative combination. It could go terribly wrong but I am glad to hear from you that it didn’t. Regarding the taste of tomatoes, I haven’t moved and they taste horrible to me too so it must be the age thing :)


      • It seems there is a lot people do not know about the food industry. It is very difficult to distribute fruit and vegetable that has not been grown from industrial hybrid seeds and seedlings at least in the European Union. This means that most of the tomatos eat are genetically manipulated. You can draw analogies to the perfume industry where most natural ingredients are slowly labeled “dangerous” while artificial ingredients marketed each year are all considered pure as rain water.


  3. Y’all need to come to New Jersey, where the deformed but divinely flavorful “ugly” vine tomato is king. They are grown everywhere, sold freshly picked at garden markets and tiny wooden roadside stands; and sometimes even on card tables set up outside people’s houses (often with nothing but a lone jelly jar for you to place your payment on the honor system). In season, you can be certain that the “maters” only traveled 20 feet from vine to point of sale. Supermarket tomatoes are worthless here, with so much homegrown, sun ripened bounty.


    • I suspected that there still might be better (less cultivated) varieties out there. But mass production, even “organic” and for “high-end” stores, is probably happy with those almost artificial creations with a good shelf life. I should try buying tomatos in different parts of the country when I travel and happen to be not in a large city.


    • I feel more and more like buying a bottle and sending out samples to all who hesitates: it is better than it sounds! Maybe one day I’ll learn how to describe better perfumes I like :)


  4. What a disappointment about American tomatoes. I can’t say I have noticed a marked difference between those I have gotten in other countries and the ones here, but I have noticed that the ones from my garden are much better. Thanks for the link to the NYT article.

    As for the perfume, I agree with Susan. I have a hard time imagining wanting to wear the scent of tomato leaf, but if you like it, I trust there must be something to it. I will watch out for the line.


  5. That was a fascinating article about tomatoes that you linked to, Undina. I didn’t grow tomatoes this year, but often do, and I find them quite tasty. But maybe that’s because I’ve never had the kind grown in your country (that haven’t been bred to be uninformly red).

    The perfume you describe sounds quite good. Best tomato perfume I’ve ever smelled is CB I Hate Perfume’s Memory of Kindness. I’m not sure I would ever purchase a bottle, but I do love the smell of tomato vine.


  6. I could never find decent tomatoes in Boston. Even in nice restaurants in summer they’d be serving you crappy pale tasteless tomatoes. The quality of the average tomato seems much better in Denver. In summer I always buy something local; at other times of year, I can usually find cherry or grape tomatoes that are worth eating.


    • I found tomatos that are better and just stopped buying those plastic-y things that are called the same name in supermarkets. But I felt some satisfaction when I read that I wasn’t just imagining things.


  7. I just grew a ton of tomatoes! wish I could send you some Undina to see if they come close to what you remember. In fact, I’m snacking on some bread baked by a friend topped with my just made tomato jam. Yummmy!


  8. I agree: our tomatoes suck. I love tomatoes, but I think that everyone thinks I don’t because I only want them when they are in season and come from a local farm. They are just tasteless if they don’t!

    But this fragrance sounds very interesting. Will need to seek it out!


  9. My family had a massive garden when I was growing up, and every night later in the summer we’d go out and pick fresh produce and cook it, and that was supper. It was heavenly. If you’ve ever had fresh new asparagus, you’d never be able to eat the store-bought stuff again, so I think I know where you’re coming from, Undina. I wish I had the space and sunlight to grow a garden now.

    And thank you for the heads-up about this new brand; I’m intrigued.


  10. I am very curious about the perfume. Would you save some for me to try?
    As for tomatoes, I see plenty tasty and “ugly” ones here in Texas during the season. Right now, actually. It’s pointless to grow them if you are not a farmer those, because for both of us there is a problem of wild animals – they eat everything in urban zones and suburbia. I had 11 pomegranates this year and I managed to save only one. I tried tomatoes one year and they were all gone before they became red – rabbits.


    • I’ll bring all three with me for you to try. I do not have enough of them to split into separate vials but enough to test from mine.

      Yeah, I know about problems with animals. In our area they also eat everything before it’s even ripen.


  11. Thanks for the review and the ode to tomatoes! I love the smell, taste and texture of real tomatoes. The tomato leaf note has always been inspiring to me and was one that I worked with almost immediately for the brand. It is fitting that No. 16 reminds you of your grandmother since I created No.16 with my Italian grandfathers tomatoes etched in my memory.
    all the best to you!


  12. Sounds fab Undina, I need to look into this one.
    I’ve been after a good tomato leaf kinda fragrance – so far my favourite is Memory Of Kindness by CB I Hate Perfume, it’s absolutely beautiful, but refreshing like a cologne – I just hate the whole water or oil thing, but there we go.
    I don’t like the taste of tomatoes on their own, actually, I do – it’s the texture, thankfully a scent can’t capture the rancid snottiness of the tomato seeds :)


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  15. Hello Ladies! Wanted to let you know I will be adding the small purse sprays to the website within the week. Bigger than the samples and single scents so you can focus on the one you want. Hope more of you will be able to try them.
    Best to all Dannielle


  16. Well, this sounds right up my alley !!! I adore the smell of tomato leaf in perfumes! Undina, do you remember Folavril (Annick Goutal)? That was my first intro to tomato leaf….made me realize I like it as a note.
    And I am off to look at the site for those travel sprays…looking only :)….still “trying” to stick to my no buy-LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Naughty, Undina! I just looked at their site and you created a lemming for me :)
      They all sound so unique and interesting! I am going to peruse your blog now to see if you reviewed any others from the line.


    • I remember the name but I’m not sure I’ve ever tried that Annick Goutal perfume: the brand was not represented well around where I live (and now it’s even worse: none of the two local Nordstroms and one Neiman Marcus carry the line any longer).


      • Folavril was actually the very first Annick Goutal perfume and the scent was based on a facial cream that she made and was selling. It was composed of tomato leaf, baronia and mango notes (among others I am sure). It was very unusual and sadly now discontinued and hard to come by. I know you were/are a fan of Annick Goutal so I thought maybe you might have tried it.


  17. Pingback: Saturday Question: Do You Like Tomatoes? In Perfumes? – Undina's Looking Glass

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