Thursday, 12 February 2015


If you google the words "Ragu recipe" and read everything that comes up at least 4 pages in, you will find yourself puzzled and probably slightly frustrated. While for many of us a ragu, or Italian meat sauce, is the ultimate comfort food, the steps leading to this simple pleasure are slippery, because EVERYONE has an opinion and they all differ. What type of meat, wine, or no wine, red or white, stock or no stock, milk???, passata or puree, how much celery, and how many bloody hours does it need to simmer? 
People swear that theirs is the one and only, handed down from a long line of ancestors since the beginning of the Italian Renaissance, found in barely legible recipe books hidden away from Barbaric hordes during the siege of Rome.... you get the gist. And then there are the modern preachers of innovative cooking, like Heston Blumenthal and his molecular disciples. They ask you to use sous-vides here, and dried ice over there, to pulverise your meat and to explode your toms, just for the fun of it.
Needless to say that in this household we have our own, ultimate version. Developed over a few years, tweaked to perfection. Our perfection, that is. Because the beauty of a ragu is that it makes you feel at home, save and at ease with the world. Whatever is needed to achieve your personal meat sauce heaven is allowed. (Having said that, the idea of putting milk in it is  of course just plain weird!)

Interestingly, not many perfumes actively seek out to smell of savoury dishes. All the gourmand scents I know cater to the sweet toothed amongst us and there is a fair amount of fragrant love for alcoholic beverages, but a scent that smells of cooking is a rare thing, indeed. It therefore takes some guts to call your creation "Italian meat sauce" and Ragu by Gabriella Chieffo, certainly is an unusual scent, not just for the name.

My visual interpretation of Ragu, by Gabriella Chieffo

Ragu opens with a burst of orange and pink pepper. And quite some burst it is. Fresh, tingly and aromatic. And then the perfume seductively asks you if you want some more pepper with it, grinding the mill before you even had a chance to answer. Now it's the black variety - strong, direct, and not taking any prisoners. At this stage the fragrance feels dry, sharp and even a  bit grainy, be aware that if you don't like pepper you will not enjoy this ride. After an hour or so on my skin, other spices come to play, mainly nutmeg and cloves, and their deeper, sweeter aromas give the perfume now a gentler and more feminine touch. It mellows, presenting itself in a different texture now, far creamier, and rounder. I cannot really detect any tomato notes in the perfume, but there is  a fleshier, juicier aspect to this stage of the scent and it more and more feels like a good ragu sauce has just come together. The final phase of the perfume involves leather and woody notes and a slowly simmering solidity takes over the earlier bursts and bubbles. In terms of colour it wasn't easy to pin down, Ragu delights more in its textural aspects, but I've decided to stay with mostly red and earthy hues to emphasise the warmth the fragrance offered me. Nice. Very nice, and more than a bit more-ish. 

How and where to wear:
In the privacy and comfort of your own space.



  1. I'm glad it doesn't smell like meat! Or maybe I'm slightly disappointed... I don't know! :)

    1. I know what you mean...Ragu is tamer than the name suggests.

  2. What a strange notion for a perfume - and I am glad there is no milk in it at least... I laughed at the generous dosing with pepper whether you want it or not! Not sure if this would be for me (not a fan of clove), but it was a tasty description for sure. ;)

    1. Hi Vanessa. Not too strange I think, it symbolises the comfort of cooking and food. Considering how important smell is for our ability to taste... If you don't like spices and pepper you won't like this, but I find it a very fine and unusual scent indeed.