Feature by Kristina Kerley
Often times I wonder why white salt and black pepper always appear as the leads on the dinner table stage, serving as the go to accoutrement’s for just about everything edible. I’m not here to argue their place in our hearts, because let’s face it, a dish with too little salt is almost not worth eating and there truly is nothing like fresh cracked pepper. I am here to ask, do we settle when it comes to all the other spices in our cabinet?
I have come to realize that, yes, we do. The best reason I can think of is that spices, more so than any other food accessory, can be extremely daunting. Too much cayenne and your dish is inedible; being heavy handed with cinnamon will leave your mouth puckered and dry. And unlike a lot of other ingredients, with spices, a little can certainly go a long way, and inexperienced eyes aren’t the best judges. On the other hand though, there is nothing quite so visually pleasing as dark red paprika atop your morning eggs, with that amazing smoky flavor to boot, or the instant comfort of just enough nutmeg in your holiday slice of pumpkin pie.
I came to know most of my favorite spices from eating at various restaurants. I have come to love the rich thick taste curry powder brings to a soup, the fresh pop roughly chopped basil adds to any tomato sauce, and the way Star Anise brightens the body of a warm mug of Chai tea – with the beauty of the drink improved by leaps and bounds at the sight of the spice floating whole inside.