Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spice, Spice, Baby...

God bless my wife, Mary. When I’ve repeatedly promised and forgotten to do something, she doesn’t yell or nag. She simply gives me a gentle reminder that it needs doing. Such is the case with our ever-expanding spice cabinet. In an effort to broaden our culinary horizons by preparing different cuisines, I’ve been adding to it consistently for some time now. We started off with the spices everyone has in their collection: Thyme, Parsley, Garlic Powder, and the like — what I like to refer to as the khaki slacks of the spice world, meaning they go with most anything.

But when we wanted to make Mexican one night, I bought Cumin. Then there was French night, which meant I needed Tarragon. Then I found an Italian recipe that called for Rosemary. With each new dish came the need for a new spice or two. More and more of them kept creeping into the cabinet. Basil, Curry Powder, Marjoram, Coriander, Garam Masala, Chives, Dill, Turmeric, Celery Seed, Ginger (ground and candied), Onion Powder, Chipotle Powder, Sage, Paprika, Chinese Five Spice, Cardamom ... and that’s only the bottom shelf. Mary asked me to clean it out, organize it, do something with it.

I looked at spice racks at different stores and online, but 1.) they all come with spices. I don’t need more spices. I don’t have room for the spices I have. 2.) The most I’ve ever seen a spice rack hold is 20 jars, and I passed that number long ago. I considered buying individual empty spice jars, but at three to five dollars each I’d have to sell a baby on the black market to collect enough to contain the culinary arsenal spread across my table now. But the other day a wonderful thing happened. Mary sent me a text saying that she had gone out and purchased three different types of spice racks. When I got home from work, she said, I could decide which one I liked, keep all three, get more of one, whatever.

This is what she does. She takes care of me so well and there are no words to tell her how much I appreciate her patience. Maybe I’ll cook her a nice dinner. I have a great recipe for Jamaican Jerk Chicken. I just need to get some Allspice...