The Spice is the Life

Sumac-A very common seasoning in Middle Eastern and North African foods. Lemony and earthy. Also, not poisonous. You’re thinking of poison sumac.

Oh, I couldn’t help it. 

Anyway, I’m listing things.  That’s this month’s NaBloPoMo theme.  Themes help a person kick start their writing practice, or at least keep them on the straight and narrow.  So here I am, listing.

Spices, Herbs and Seasonings: Want It, Gotta Tell About It, Can’t Get Enough of It!

Want It:


Grains of Paradise
-This sounds really cool… A taste profile that is a mixture of pepper, cardamom and ginger.  Might be an interesting addition to something sweet…
Urfa Biber-A Turkish pepper flake that has a full heat and tobacco-chocolate taste.  This might be nice in a tagine.
Amchoor-Dried, powdered mango.  Sometimes used instead of vinegar in Indian foods.  Try in a curry.
Black Cardamom-Not cardamom at all, but has a similar pod structure.  Much larger than a traditional cardamom pod.  Smells to me like hickory seasoning, and is supposed to be really good as an addition to smoking aromatics.  Maybe I’ll try it when we grill some lamb kebabs.

Gotta Tell About It:

Aleppo Pepper-Sweet, hot and lemony pepper from Turkey.  Really good on fish and chicken, great in mujadara, a red pepper dip made with ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
Epazote-The weirdest smelling stuff when it’s fresh and raw, an amazingly complex (if delicate) arrangement of camphor-y, licorice-y, citrus-y flavors when cooked.
Sumac-A very common seasoning in Middle Eastern and North African foods.  Lemony and earthy.  Also, not poisonous.  You’re thinking of poison sumac.
Shiso-Beautiful dentelled leaves used in Japanese cuisine.  Tastes like a combination of mint, clove and cinnamon.
Cherry, Apple and Apricot Seeds-Dried Cherry pits, or Mahleb, are used in Armenian baked goods.  It’s a slightly bitter and floral taste, which goes nicely with sweet stuff.  Apple seeds are brilliant when they’re cooked in with sweeter things like rosewater syrup or pear jam.  Apricot seeds were once used in place  of almonds in certain baked goods: it’s still in amaretto-amaretti cookies and is the basis for a popular Italian syrup called orgeat.
Tamarind Paste-Lovely sweet-and-souring agent.  Terrific in Tom Yum.

Can’t Get Enough of It:

Garlic Powder-Chris brings it to the pizza parlor.  I use it every week in my clients’ dishes.  It’s easy to add just a hint of flavor without being overwhelming.
Nutritional Yeast-A wonderful addition to soups and stocks.  Deepens everything it touches.  Serious umami action.  Can’t rave about it enough.  I use it aaaaalll the time in dishes where I don’t want to add extra salt.  Next best thing if I don’t have it is crushed mushroom powder.  Next is low-sodium tamari.
Parsley-Wow, hello chlorophyll.  I love that taste of sunshine, and I can get it all year round from the very hardy parsley plant that grows on my windowsill. 
Marjoram-Unusually versatile and often overlooked herb.  Great in eggs, wonderful on fish and meat.  Even more than fresh thyme, marjoram makes everything taste French.
Lemon Zest-Goes in almost everything.  Desert island seasonings are salt, pepper, lemon zest, red wine and…
Red Chile Flake-cause you gotta have a lil heat.  The only thing I skip on seasoning with chile flake is my oatmeal. 

Hmmm, I wonder?

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