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Smells Like: Roya and Maman
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Smells Like: Roya and Maman

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Smells Like: is an exploration of the human experience of scent through personal stories and connections.

For our fifth installment in the series, New York-based Skin writer and Social Impact Manager for Glossier Roya Shariat, whose soon-to-be published cookbook Maman and Me documents her cooking journey with her mother, shares a special Mother's Day iteration.

Tell me about yourself, your mother, and your work together:

I’m a writer, social impact leader, and food lover who has called New York home for the past 12 years. I write a newsletter on food, culture, and joy called Consumed. My maman is the most fierce, incredible woman, a teacher who is one of the best Iranian home cooks out there. 

Early on in the pandemic, I spent a lot of time with my parents and started documenting my mom’s cooking, and magic ability to fit food in perfect tupperware on TikTok. The intent was just to capture these special memories during a strange, scary time in our lives. Soon enough, the videos started reaching and resonating with hundreds of thousands of people around the world. 

I started an Instagram account called Maman and Me to document our cooking and recipes. For about a decade now, I’ve dreamt of authoring a cookbook with my mom—starting these social media accounts and growing a following gave me the confidence to pursue it more seriously. Now, we are deep in the process of writing our very first cookbook, which will be published sometime in late 2023! 

What scents are you encountering today?

Walking around Brooklyn with my dog Fig, I’m encountering the smells of old pizza crusts and car exhaust. I popped into a park where I could smell some fresh blossoms and grass, which was very necessary. And now I’m cooking up dinner, so my apartment smells like garlic and onions, which is one of my favorite scents of all time. 

Do you have a signature scent? Does your mother?

Scents are an absolute comfort for me. The smell of roses takes me home, into the kitchen where my maman is cooking up something sweet with rosewater. I gravitate towards roses, jasmine, lush green scents, things that feel fresh and like sunshine on the skin. Some scents I’m savoring lately are Dar AlTeeb’s Classic Rose, and Vilhelm Parfumerie’s Morning Chess. I also have to shout out Redoux’s Bathhouse bar, which transports me to a lush outdoor spa and makes me feel soft and pampered. 

Two things come to mind when I think of my maman’s signature scents: jasmine, one of her favorite flowers. We used to have a small jasmine bush and she would keep the flowers in her pockets, in her bag, in the car just to give that beautiful, sweet aroma. Her other signature scent is Creed’s Love in White, her special ‘treat yourself’ perfume in recent years. The brand describes the fragrance as “pure freedom” which is fitting for such an independent spirit. It also happens to be First Lady Michelle Obama’s signature scent!  

Any particular memories of those scents?

Absolutely. I think the power of scent to evoke memory is pure magic. As someone who loves food and cooking, and whose core memories were made in the kitchen (and I’m now immortalizing those memories into a cookbook), smells with notes of roses, saffron, and cardamom always make me feel like I’m home again. Jasmine transports me to the memory of my mom plucking jasmine flowers from the bush in our backyard, giving them to me to smell or sharing with friends. 

Can you describe yourself as a ...

Place: Stockholm (my happy place!) on a bright, sunny August day, on the water with the light shining on your skin and a slight breeze in the air. You’re looking at the Baltic sea with a creme-filled pastry and a bitter coffee by your side. 

Taste: A gin martini with at least five olives, and extra olive juice.

Color: Yves Klein Blue.

Emotion or Feeling: Pure gratitude and awe of the world and people around me. 

What's the last thing that brought you joy? An incredibly delicious, fluffy doughnut.