My mother always told me the key to cooking is knowing your spices. She used to keep around a special can of an invisible spice called, “Love”. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around spices. The first coming to mind was when my mother held a neighborhood Halloween party (back in the days when the entire street knew each other and all the kids were friends). She blind folded us kids and put variety of spices in little bowls. Then she had us sniff them and take a guess at what they were. It was really exciting to giggle, expecting to smell something smelly. Since then I have always waned to learn how to use spices in cooking.
Second memory that comes to mind was when I used to go into my mother’s spice cabinet and “make potions”. I would never taste them though. I guess I was more interested in the color and smell of them. When I was young, I remember using spices as a way to get back at my mom for upsetting me. A little chili powder in her lasagna did the trick. I even got a sick pleasure of asking her later how her dish lasagna turned out.
My curiosity in spices still grows to this day, as I still don’t know how to use them very well in cooking. Yet, I believe that understanding spices can enhance my creativity and enjoyment in my culinary life. It has motivated me to use whole spices and process them myself. Finally, I remember once I tried making blackened chicken which called for two cups of black pepper. Then, I quickly realized that recipe said tablespoons not cups. I remember the parents scraping of layers of chicken trying to salvage the expensive poultry from being wasted. Anyways, spices are a complicated thing, but you sure can learn a lot from them. I know I did.