I enjoyed our walk along the Mediterranean to see some rosemary shrubs. If we walk away from the beach and go a little more inland, towards the Levant region east of the Mediterranean, it has bountiful amounts of thyme. This is another aromatic perennial evergreen herb that comes from the mint family. Thymus vulgaris is the kind that is generally used in cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. There are many varieties you can use and it’s a great herb to get familiar with.
This spice is another all-time favorite among humans. While a lot of spices are used to heat up or add a complex, savory taste to their dishes, this spice is most often seen in desserts. Cinnamon is often paired with sugar to create delicious cookies, pies, ciders, and other baked goods. While it can also be used in savory dishes, it is most often used in sweets. It has had an illustrious reputation since antiquity and continues to be widely used today.
For the next spice on my list, I’ll be taking a trip back to India and the Middle East to explore the origins and characteristics of cumin. Cumin is another warm and earthy spice that comes from the seeds of Cuminum cyminum. It is sold both ground and as whole seeds.
For this spice journey, we will take a brief stop in Mexico and examine one of its native plants, the Capsicum annuum. The thin maroon-colored peppers hanging from the shrub are dried and ground into the spice you know as paprika. This spice can be mild, hot, or smoky depending on the way it is processed. Though indigenous to Central Mexico, the spice migrated to Hungary and became central to this country’s cuisine, as well.
For this spice journey, I invite you to set down the black pepper shaker and step outside your kitchen to where turmeric originally came from, India. Turmeric is ground from the root of the flowering plant, Curcuma longa, which belongs to the ginger family. Turmeric is known for its earthy flavor, radiant color, and healthful properties. It has also been given special attention by nutritionists, physicians, and foodies alike given its recent rise to superfood stardom. Let’s explore the roots of this root!
The first spice journey I wish to take you on starts small. You must only step into your kitchen. You are guaranteed to find this spice in your household as it is the most commonly used spice in Western and Eastern cultures alike. This is none other than black pepper, the frequent companion of table salt. Black pepper on its own has a rich origin story and interesting modern-day use.