The Surprising $7 French Find That Keeps My Kitchen Smelling Amazing

published Aug 12, 2021
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Kitchens are bound to have some odors from time to time — cooking three meals a day in there adds up! But I for one (and I’m sure I’m not alone!) do not love spending time in there when I can smell last night’s salmon or a stinky sponge that’s been by the sink for too long.

We all know that no one enjoys a smelly kitchen, and just about everybody appreciates one that smells good. So, I was pretty excited when I recently found out about Papier d’Arménie. What is it? Well, it literally translates to Armenian paper. It’s a little booklet of scented paper, which you burn like you’d burn incense. Invented by a Frenchman traveling through Armenia in the 1800s, the product is a riff on the Armenian practice of burning tree resin called benzoin to fragrance and “cleanse” the home. The paper, in fact, has been produced for more than 120 years in Paris’ suburbs!

My new discovery came from Flotsam + Fork, a cute kitchen and décor shop specializing in European imports. I was happy to try both the Arménie-Bleu and traditional scents. (There’s a rose scent, too.) To use it, you tear a perforated strip of paper from the booklet, accordion fold it, place it on a heat-safe dish, light it, and then blow the flame out so it burns slowly. The result is a noticeable, heady scent!

To be honest, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. At first, the similarity to incense had me thinking it wouldn’t be a product I’d use long-term. But the scent that lingers after the paper stops burning is less of a burning scent and more of a pleasant, perfume-y fragrance that’s surprisingly perfect. I found myself remembering and almost craving the scent long after it faded. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

I also have come to really enjoy ripping off the paper, folding it, and lighting it. It’s a grounding ritual that gives me the opportunity to pause in the hectic, dinner-to-bedtime routine.

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

I also got this beautiful ceramic burner that comes in terra-cotta, taupe, and white. While it’s not necessary for burning the scented paper (it can be burned on any heat-safe surface), it’s a nice touch that contains the burnt paper, funnels the smoke, and makes a nice visual tableau.

Another unexpected perk is how lovely the paper itself smells before it’s even burned. Every time I open the drawer where I keep the booklets, I’m greeted with their scent! I’m planning to put little slips elsewhere in the kitchen and between the pages of my one-line-a-day journal, too! Can you tell I love these scents?

I do! And now that I know about Papier d’Arménie, I’m pretty eager to share the joy it brings!

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: The Surprising $7 French Find That Keeps My Kitchen Smelling Amazing