Peau d’Espagne is a combination of flower and spice oils that is used to impregnate leather with scent. To further enhance the exotic smell, civet (cat musk) and grain musk (obtained from the wild deer whose grain [gland] you see here) are added to gum (tragacanth) mucilage which is used to secure two pieces of leather together under pressure. The resulting Spanish Leather is then used to scent writing paper, ladies gloves & linens—the scent is reputed to last for years. However, the peau d’Espagne can also be used to add flavor to meat dishes.
In the kitchen, use a drop of oil in a carrier oil, such as olive, poured over a dish at the last minute prior to serving, much as one does orange or rose flower water—the heat of the dish will waft a delightfully exotic aroma. Or it can be added to warm tea or spirits used to plump up dried fruit before its inclusion in a receipt.
To scent one’s body, perhaps, is its best use today …
«This fragrance lingers on everything it touches like a rugged kiss from a cowboy soaked in campfire smoke and saddle leather sweat. It smells like the sexiest man you've ever seen in your life, taking a hot outdoor bath in a tin tub, smeared with sweet shaving lather and dust, steaming on a cold high-desert morning.»
«More specifically, according to Havelock Ellis:
“Peau d'Espagne may be mentioned as a highly complex and luxurious perfume, often the favorite scent of sensuous persons, which really owes a large part of its potency to the presence of the crude animal sexual odors of musk and civet. It consists of wash-leather steeped in ottos of neroli, rose, santal, lavender, verbena, bergamot, cloves, and cinnamon, subsequently smeared with civet and musk. It is said by some, probably with a certain degree of truth, that Peau d'Espagne is of all perfumes that which most nearly approaches the odor of a woman's skin; whether it also suggests the odor of leather is not so clear”.»
«1355. Peau d'Espagne, or Spanish Skin, is merely highly-perfumed leather. Take of oil of rose, neroli, and santal, each 1/2 ounce; oil of lavender, verbena, bergamot, each 1/4 ounce; oil of cloves and cinnamon, each 2 drachms; in this dissolve 2 ounces gum benzoin. In this steep good pieces of waste leather for a day or two, and dry it over a line. Prepare a paste by rubbing in a mortar, 1 drachm of civet with 1 drachm of grain musk, and enough gum-tragacanth mucilage to give a proper consistence. The leather is cut up into pieces about 4 inches square; two of these are pasted together with the above paste, placed between 2 pieces of paper, weighted or pressed until dry. It may then be inclosed in silk or satin. It gives off its odor for years; is much used for perfuming paper, envelopes, etc.; for which purpose 1 or 2 pieces of the perfumed leather, kept in the drawer or desk containing the paper, will impart to it a fine and durable perfume.»
Encyclopedia Of Practical Receipts And Processes, by William B. Dick.
Receipt de Cuisine:
Used in Poulpette à l’Italienne – Italian Meatballs