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