Sunday, June 27, 2010
Look in Your Spice Cabinet
Before you go and look, guess how many bottles of cloves you have in your spice cabinet. Ground and whole cloves. What do you think? One or two, one of each?
When I moved recently, I found I had six bottles of ground cloves, two of whole.
Now, this isn't Renaissance England and I don't need to rub cloves on myself in order to smell good (thank you modern plumbing and Dove soap). I do not make pumpkin pies every day, nor do I decorate a ham with a crosshatch cut, pineapple slices, maraschino cherries, and whole cloves--I have never done that. I don't think I've eaten a ham like that since 1985.
So what's up with the cloves?
And the number of ground ginger bottles was alarming. Chili powder? You'd think I entered into chili competitions weekly.
I saw an ad for McCormick spices, and it said if the bottle in your cupboard had a particular address on it, the bottle was over 15 years old. I threw away three bottles, one of onion salt. This was a very smart advertising campaign, a good way to get people to start chucking bottles and then go out to buy six more bottles of new cloves.
Star anise--petrified. Cardamom pods? Good for the compost pile. Fennel and cumin seeds? Dead, dead, dead.
Bay leaves like brittle paper, crystallized ginger like granite.
I did feel a little nostalgiac about dishes I made with the now defunct spices. Chicken Diablo--my friend Cindy's boyfriend gave me the recipe in 1984. Goodbye antique chili flakes.
But what was a doing with star anise? Hmmm--I must have repressed the memory.
So here's my call--go into the kitchen. Yes, do it. Open the drawer, the cabinet--look on the shelf. Start examining those bottles. Smell them--if you can't smell them, buy six bottles of ground cloves.
Jessica Barksdale Inclan
Posted by Jessica Barksdale Inclan at 10:14 AM