Many years ago there was a commercial that ran only during the holiday season. It was from Spartan Food Stores. The jingle was so catchy, “It’s time for Spartan spice school come and take a look. Learn to use your spices and you’ll be a better cook.” Or something like that, it was well over 30 years ago and I could be wrong.
I do remember thinking that it was a clever spot. This spot was educational as well as attempting to get you into their store and buy spices, and hopefully the rest of the ingredients. My use of spices in baking has been limited to the usual cast of characters. Of the dried ones, cinnamon, nutmeg, a tiny bit of cloves, allspice and cardamom. My liquid repertoire is a bit more varied and includes vanilla in all forms, almond, lemon and orange extracts. Shame on me, there are so many tantalizing taste enhancers waiting to add a little sumthin sumthin to my baked goods.
Do any of you use mace? I’ve heard of it and honestly can’t say whether I’ve eaten something with it or not. How about anise? Geez oh Pete I’ve got to get on the ball people!! Before I go any further with my spice rant I’m talking about real honest to goodness spices nothing artificial which I’ve found most flavorings to be.
Back in the winter I ventured into the health food store to price whole nutmeg to grind myself. It was over $30.00 a pound and I left it right where it was. Granted I wasn’t going to get a whole pound, just wanted to explore some other sources. So sticking with only using natural ingredients what other options do we have and what is considered a spice? The dictionary defines it this way:
1. aromatic plant substance used as flavoring: an aromatic plant substance used as a flavoring, e.g. nutmeg or ginger
2. flavorings from plants: food flavorings derived from the nonleafy parts of plants (often used before a noun)
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
What’s your favorite spice and what’s the most exotic one you’ve ever used? Inquiring minds want to know. Well at least I do.