As an unexpected gift, she sent me a copy of her book Essence & Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume, and this is a must-have must-read for anyone interested in the history of perfume.
Essence & Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume
"Mandy Aftel resurrects the rich legacy that is entwined with the evolution of perfumery, from the dramas of the spice trade to the quests of the alchemists. She unearths a forgotten world in which scent was celebrated by poets, contemplated by philosophers, and universally appreciated for its profound resonance with body, mind, and soul."
$17.00 (for a signed copy) from Aftelier Perfumes (Unaffiliated Link)
"Smelling her extraordinary collection of oils took me to beautiful places I have never been before. The fragrance that Mandy Aftel blended exclusively for me is full of citrus and herbal fragrances that complement my culinary life."—Alice Waters
"Reading Mandy Aftel on perfume is like listening to Mozart on original instruments-it’s a revelation of tone and technique. She captures the sensuous pleasure of working with fragrance oils and the intellectual delight of composing in scent. Her book combines a perfumer’s sensibility with the authority of a historian and the passion of an enthusiast."
—Avery Gilbert, president of the Sense of Smell Institute