The Romance of Spices

Cat_243_dover By Mary Jo

I’m sitting on my screened porch on  a summer morning, sipping coffee, watching birds, and enjoying the scent of pepper that floats through the summer air. This is unusual—more often, I would smell allspice, which carries wll. 

No, I am not imaging the tantalizing fragrance in the air, despite having an over-active writer’s imagination.  The world’s largest spice company, McCormick’s, is headquartered a few miles north of my house.  My hometown of Baltimore has been one of America’s most important ports since its founding, so it’s not surprising that the city is home to several spice companies

Spices are something we take for granted, like being able to listen to music whenever we want.  We can stop in the baking aisle of any supermarket and have our choice of dozens of spices and herbs.  But once the spice trade was the most lucrative, and perhaps dangerous, in Mccormicks_logo the world.  In many ways, spices are responsible for discovering the world we know. 

A brief definition: while the whole delicious range of flavorings are sometimes called spices, these days herbs are defined as the leaves and seeds of temperate zone plants.  They can be used fresh or dried, whole or chopped.  Think parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. <g>  And dill seed and caraway and mustard and more. 

Spices are the bark, seeds, or roots of tropical plants.  They are generally dried and often ground to powder.  For example, whole stick cinnamon might be tossed into hot cider, but more often we use ground cinnamon in baking.  Nutmeg is a sort of tree nut, while the spice called mace is made from the red husk that grows around the nutmeg.  Cloves are the dried flower buds of a tropical evergreen.  Spices had to last well so they could be transported great distances without losing their potency. 

Bagged_spices The most coveted of spices originated in legendary places far, far from Western Europe, so they were rare and precious.  The most exotic of all came from the Spice Islands, a cluster in the eastern section of the vast archipelago that is now called Indonesia. 

Spices were an important cargo in the great caravan routes that ran from Asia to Europe, and for a long time Arab traders maintained a tight monopoly on the spice trade.  Because spice were so valuable, attempts at monopoly were made over and over, with varying degrees of success. 

Large_spice_route_map The trade is thousands of years old, with the beginnings lost in the mists of time.  Herodotus wrote of spices (rather inaccurately) and legend says that when the Queen of Sheba called on King Solomon, she brought gifts of gold and spices. 

The Nabateans, who built the magical city of Petra in what is now Jordan were major spice traders–and even two thousand years ago, there was worry about the balance of trade since too much of the Roman Petra Empire’s gold was flowing east to pay for the luxuries of silk and spices.  For a time, the Romans established their own sea routes to India, and a Greeek merchant discovered the secret of the trade winds that had helped carry Arab traders for centuries: the monsoons reverse direction and by sailing with the winds in both directions, the voyage from the Red Sea coast to India and return could be made much more quickly and safely. 

With the fall of Rome, trade with the east declined markedly and only small amounts of wildly expensive Nutmeg_tree spices made their way to Europe.  A few pounds of cloves or nutmeg or cinnamon could make a man’s fortune.  In a great house, the spices were kept in small chests under lock and key, with only the mistress and perhaps a trusted housekeeper having access.  Peppercorns were used as currency, and even as bribes to judges in court cases. (That’s a nutmeg on its tree to the right, with the husk that will become mace.)

The Crusades revived the interaction of East and West, even if it was at the wrong end of a sword.  Venice was the main distributor of spices in Europe because of their relationships with Arab traders, and spices helped create the city-state’s great wealth. 

The lust for wealth is a tremendous incentive, of course.  Marco Polo and his kin headed overland to China looking spices and other portable riches.  The European craving for spices grew.  Pepperers’ Guilds became Spicers’ Guilds.  And by the fifteenth century , the drive for spices helped launch the great Age Columbus_ships_2 of Discovery.  Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and other great navigators set off into the great and perilous unknown.  Christopher Columbus was looking for India and spices when he wandered into North America. (It wasn’t a total loss, though—allspice comes from the West Indies, and it’s a spice equal to any that come from the Spice Islands.) 

A powerful scent is one of the chief characteristic of spices, and scent is the most primitive of our senses.  Certain aromas have the power to jerk us back to earlier times and places, just as tastes and Curry_big scents immediately conjure particular cultures.  India is known for the mixture of spices we call curry (though a good Indian cook will probably uses several individual spices rather than the commercial blend we call “curry powder.” )

The first time I tasted the unique dish known as Cincinnati chili, I knew that it wasn’t Mexican in origin but Greek because of the blend of spices used to season it. (Great stuff, too!  I wish Cincinnati chili was more widely available.)  And Mexican food is noted for the distinctive pepper based seasons–but not the same kind of peppers that make peppercorns. 

In Amsterdam several years ago, I wanted to visit an Indonesian restaurant because I was writing The Bartered Bride, which was set partially in Indonesia.  We found a nice little Indonesian restaurant (with Spices_and_herbs an open door and a cat that wandered casually in and out), and ordered a rice table—that is, a mixture of Indonesian dishes.  With my first bite I was taken back many years to my first visit to Amsterdam, and my first taste of Indonesian food.  There is a particular blend of spices that says “Indonesia” as clearly as curry says India.  Every culture has its tastes and special ingredients, and I for one give thanks for the increasing variety of restaurants and cuisines available to us. 

I could go on and on about spices, but I’ll spare you. <G>  What are your favorite spices and herbs?  Do you have stories about them, memories invoked by particular tastes?  Please share! 

Cloves Mary Jo, wondering if she should add her Mint Experience

95 thoughts on “The Romance of Spices”

  1. As is often the way, your post reminded me of the search for color pigments the world over. We take our red flannel pajamas for granted, too. Of course, now there are synthetic dyes and we’re not grinding up beetles, but it is remarkable how simple things are so complicated!
    I used to sell real estate, and once walked into the house of a very clever seller, who was simmering a pot of water on the stove with cinnamon and other “apple pie” spices. I immediately felt at home, could picture myself baking in her cute kitchen. This was a scent rather than a taste sensation, but I could almost imagine a piece of pie between my lips.
    My favorite flavor is lemon anything. I’m extremely found of freshly-ground pepper. As I have matured, garlic is not my friend.

    Reply
  2. As is often the way, your post reminded me of the search for color pigments the world over. We take our red flannel pajamas for granted, too. Of course, now there are synthetic dyes and we’re not grinding up beetles, but it is remarkable how simple things are so complicated!
    I used to sell real estate, and once walked into the house of a very clever seller, who was simmering a pot of water on the stove with cinnamon and other “apple pie” spices. I immediately felt at home, could picture myself baking in her cute kitchen. This was a scent rather than a taste sensation, but I could almost imagine a piece of pie between my lips.
    My favorite flavor is lemon anything. I’m extremely found of freshly-ground pepper. As I have matured, garlic is not my friend.

    Reply
  3. As is often the way, your post reminded me of the search for color pigments the world over. We take our red flannel pajamas for granted, too. Of course, now there are synthetic dyes and we’re not grinding up beetles, but it is remarkable how simple things are so complicated!
    I used to sell real estate, and once walked into the house of a very clever seller, who was simmering a pot of water on the stove with cinnamon and other “apple pie” spices. I immediately felt at home, could picture myself baking in her cute kitchen. This was a scent rather than a taste sensation, but I could almost imagine a piece of pie between my lips.
    My favorite flavor is lemon anything. I’m extremely found of freshly-ground pepper. As I have matured, garlic is not my friend.

    Reply
  4. As is often the way, your post reminded me of the search for color pigments the world over. We take our red flannel pajamas for granted, too. Of course, now there are synthetic dyes and we’re not grinding up beetles, but it is remarkable how simple things are so complicated!
    I used to sell real estate, and once walked into the house of a very clever seller, who was simmering a pot of water on the stove with cinnamon and other “apple pie” spices. I immediately felt at home, could picture myself baking in her cute kitchen. This was a scent rather than a taste sensation, but I could almost imagine a piece of pie between my lips.
    My favorite flavor is lemon anything. I’m extremely found of freshly-ground pepper. As I have matured, garlic is not my friend.

    Reply
  5. As is often the way, your post reminded me of the search for color pigments the world over. We take our red flannel pajamas for granted, too. Of course, now there are synthetic dyes and we’re not grinding up beetles, but it is remarkable how simple things are so complicated!
    I used to sell real estate, and once walked into the house of a very clever seller, who was simmering a pot of water on the stove with cinnamon and other “apple pie” spices. I immediately felt at home, could picture myself baking in her cute kitchen. This was a scent rather than a taste sensation, but I could almost imagine a piece of pie between my lips.
    My favorite flavor is lemon anything. I’m extremely found of freshly-ground pepper. As I have matured, garlic is not my friend.

    Reply
  6. We have mint gone wild in our back garden. I love to make iced tea infused with mint and also use it in a Greek sauce made of yoghurt and mint for lamb. Fresh basil is wonderful, especially when it’s between slices of home-grown tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. And a stem of fresh rosemary is fragrant and tasty when put into the cavity of a whole fish on the grill. Other than these, I love anything cinnamon and don’t care for the taste of lemon.

    Reply
  7. We have mint gone wild in our back garden. I love to make iced tea infused with mint and also use it in a Greek sauce made of yoghurt and mint for lamb. Fresh basil is wonderful, especially when it’s between slices of home-grown tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. And a stem of fresh rosemary is fragrant and tasty when put into the cavity of a whole fish on the grill. Other than these, I love anything cinnamon and don’t care for the taste of lemon.

    Reply
  8. We have mint gone wild in our back garden. I love to make iced tea infused with mint and also use it in a Greek sauce made of yoghurt and mint for lamb. Fresh basil is wonderful, especially when it’s between slices of home-grown tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. And a stem of fresh rosemary is fragrant and tasty when put into the cavity of a whole fish on the grill. Other than these, I love anything cinnamon and don’t care for the taste of lemon.

    Reply
  9. We have mint gone wild in our back garden. I love to make iced tea infused with mint and also use it in a Greek sauce made of yoghurt and mint for lamb. Fresh basil is wonderful, especially when it’s between slices of home-grown tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. And a stem of fresh rosemary is fragrant and tasty when put into the cavity of a whole fish on the grill. Other than these, I love anything cinnamon and don’t care for the taste of lemon.

    Reply
  10. We have mint gone wild in our back garden. I love to make iced tea infused with mint and also use it in a Greek sauce made of yoghurt and mint for lamb. Fresh basil is wonderful, especially when it’s between slices of home-grown tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. And a stem of fresh rosemary is fragrant and tasty when put into the cavity of a whole fish on the grill. Other than these, I love anything cinnamon and don’t care for the taste of lemon.

    Reply
  11. Oh, this is right up my alley, I’m a very spicy girl!
    I adore mace–the outside and in my opinion far more distinctive part of the nutmeg.
    I’m a big fan of saffron.
    And coriander (fresh cilantro).
    I’ve mixed my own garam masala for Indian dishes.
    My favourite Mexican dish is anything with molé sauce–chili and chocolate.
    Your blog post is a happy reminder that we’re having Singapore curry noodles for supper tonight. (Not made by me, I freely admit.)

    Reply
  12. Oh, this is right up my alley, I’m a very spicy girl!
    I adore mace–the outside and in my opinion far more distinctive part of the nutmeg.
    I’m a big fan of saffron.
    And coriander (fresh cilantro).
    I’ve mixed my own garam masala for Indian dishes.
    My favourite Mexican dish is anything with molé sauce–chili and chocolate.
    Your blog post is a happy reminder that we’re having Singapore curry noodles for supper tonight. (Not made by me, I freely admit.)

    Reply
  13. Oh, this is right up my alley, I’m a very spicy girl!
    I adore mace–the outside and in my opinion far more distinctive part of the nutmeg.
    I’m a big fan of saffron.
    And coriander (fresh cilantro).
    I’ve mixed my own garam masala for Indian dishes.
    My favourite Mexican dish is anything with molé sauce–chili and chocolate.
    Your blog post is a happy reminder that we’re having Singapore curry noodles for supper tonight. (Not made by me, I freely admit.)

    Reply
  14. Oh, this is right up my alley, I’m a very spicy girl!
    I adore mace–the outside and in my opinion far more distinctive part of the nutmeg.
    I’m a big fan of saffron.
    And coriander (fresh cilantro).
    I’ve mixed my own garam masala for Indian dishes.
    My favourite Mexican dish is anything with molé sauce–chili and chocolate.
    Your blog post is a happy reminder that we’re having Singapore curry noodles for supper tonight. (Not made by me, I freely admit.)

    Reply
  15. Oh, this is right up my alley, I’m a very spicy girl!
    I adore mace–the outside and in my opinion far more distinctive part of the nutmeg.
    I’m a big fan of saffron.
    And coriander (fresh cilantro).
    I’ve mixed my own garam masala for Indian dishes.
    My favourite Mexican dish is anything with molé sauce–chili and chocolate.
    Your blog post is a happy reminder that we’re having Singapore curry noodles for supper tonight. (Not made by me, I freely admit.)

    Reply
  16. My husband is the cook in my family, and he loves spices (and spicy) food. A wide variety of spices is now easily found at many supermarkets but this wasn’t the case years ago so he would shop at ethnic markets to get the ingredients he needed for the Mexican/Asian/Middle Eastern dishes he likes to cook. He also adores garlic, and one of our first marital “disagreements” was whether garlic belonged in scrambled eggs (him) or not (me).
    As for me, one of my earliest memories is waking up before my parents on a weekend and opening those little jars in the kitchen just to smell the allspice and cinnamon and other spices. I love almost all spices, but for some reason — which I think is genetic — cilantro tastes like tin cans to me. So many ethnic cuisines that I love use it that eating out in Mexican or Indian or Vietnamese restaurants used to be a land mine. One of the few blessings of getting older is that my taste buds aren’t as sensitive so I can eat things cooked with cilantro as long as I don’t eat too much of it directly (I’m that woman at the next table trying to discreetly pick it out of my food and dispose of it on the side of my plate).

    Reply
  17. My husband is the cook in my family, and he loves spices (and spicy) food. A wide variety of spices is now easily found at many supermarkets but this wasn’t the case years ago so he would shop at ethnic markets to get the ingredients he needed for the Mexican/Asian/Middle Eastern dishes he likes to cook. He also adores garlic, and one of our first marital “disagreements” was whether garlic belonged in scrambled eggs (him) or not (me).
    As for me, one of my earliest memories is waking up before my parents on a weekend and opening those little jars in the kitchen just to smell the allspice and cinnamon and other spices. I love almost all spices, but for some reason — which I think is genetic — cilantro tastes like tin cans to me. So many ethnic cuisines that I love use it that eating out in Mexican or Indian or Vietnamese restaurants used to be a land mine. One of the few blessings of getting older is that my taste buds aren’t as sensitive so I can eat things cooked with cilantro as long as I don’t eat too much of it directly (I’m that woman at the next table trying to discreetly pick it out of my food and dispose of it on the side of my plate).

    Reply
  18. My husband is the cook in my family, and he loves spices (and spicy) food. A wide variety of spices is now easily found at many supermarkets but this wasn’t the case years ago so he would shop at ethnic markets to get the ingredients he needed for the Mexican/Asian/Middle Eastern dishes he likes to cook. He also adores garlic, and one of our first marital “disagreements” was whether garlic belonged in scrambled eggs (him) or not (me).
    As for me, one of my earliest memories is waking up before my parents on a weekend and opening those little jars in the kitchen just to smell the allspice and cinnamon and other spices. I love almost all spices, but for some reason — which I think is genetic — cilantro tastes like tin cans to me. So many ethnic cuisines that I love use it that eating out in Mexican or Indian or Vietnamese restaurants used to be a land mine. One of the few blessings of getting older is that my taste buds aren’t as sensitive so I can eat things cooked with cilantro as long as I don’t eat too much of it directly (I’m that woman at the next table trying to discreetly pick it out of my food and dispose of it on the side of my plate).

    Reply
  19. My husband is the cook in my family, and he loves spices (and spicy) food. A wide variety of spices is now easily found at many supermarkets but this wasn’t the case years ago so he would shop at ethnic markets to get the ingredients he needed for the Mexican/Asian/Middle Eastern dishes he likes to cook. He also adores garlic, and one of our first marital “disagreements” was whether garlic belonged in scrambled eggs (him) or not (me).
    As for me, one of my earliest memories is waking up before my parents on a weekend and opening those little jars in the kitchen just to smell the allspice and cinnamon and other spices. I love almost all spices, but for some reason — which I think is genetic — cilantro tastes like tin cans to me. So many ethnic cuisines that I love use it that eating out in Mexican or Indian or Vietnamese restaurants used to be a land mine. One of the few blessings of getting older is that my taste buds aren’t as sensitive so I can eat things cooked with cilantro as long as I don’t eat too much of it directly (I’m that woman at the next table trying to discreetly pick it out of my food and dispose of it on the side of my plate).

    Reply
  20. My husband is the cook in my family, and he loves spices (and spicy) food. A wide variety of spices is now easily found at many supermarkets but this wasn’t the case years ago so he would shop at ethnic markets to get the ingredients he needed for the Mexican/Asian/Middle Eastern dishes he likes to cook. He also adores garlic, and one of our first marital “disagreements” was whether garlic belonged in scrambled eggs (him) or not (me).
    As for me, one of my earliest memories is waking up before my parents on a weekend and opening those little jars in the kitchen just to smell the allspice and cinnamon and other spices. I love almost all spices, but for some reason — which I think is genetic — cilantro tastes like tin cans to me. So many ethnic cuisines that I love use it that eating out in Mexican or Indian or Vietnamese restaurants used to be a land mine. One of the few blessings of getting older is that my taste buds aren’t as sensitive so I can eat things cooked with cilantro as long as I don’t eat too much of it directly (I’m that woman at the next table trying to discreetly pick it out of my food and dispose of it on the side of my plate).

    Reply
  21. From MJP:
    Maggie, you’re right that the quest for rich pigments is another fascinating topic. Someone should write a book on the subject–if it hasn’t been done already.
    Oooh, the joy of fresh herbs! Mint is a dangerous plant to have in your yard–some morning you might enter the kitchen and find the mint plant has invaded and is sitting there drinking your coffee. 🙂
    Margaret–why am I not surprised to learn you are a connoisseur of many cuisines? 🙂 The Singapore curry noodles sound lovely!
    Susan, much as I like garlic, I don’t necessarily see it as necessary to scrambled eggs, though now and then it might be nice. Like you, I’m not a big fan of cilantro, though if it doesn’t make its presence too obvious, I can live with it.
    Also like you–I once got a set of herbs from a friend who ordered them from Penzey, a midwestern purveyor of spices and herbs. The herbs were so incredibly fresh and fragrant that I stood there at the kitchen counter and opened one bottle after another, inhaling like a cat with a fresh batch of catnip. I’m an herboholic and not ashamed to admit it!!!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  22. From MJP:
    Maggie, you’re right that the quest for rich pigments is another fascinating topic. Someone should write a book on the subject–if it hasn’t been done already.
    Oooh, the joy of fresh herbs! Mint is a dangerous plant to have in your yard–some morning you might enter the kitchen and find the mint plant has invaded and is sitting there drinking your coffee. 🙂
    Margaret–why am I not surprised to learn you are a connoisseur of many cuisines? 🙂 The Singapore curry noodles sound lovely!
    Susan, much as I like garlic, I don’t necessarily see it as necessary to scrambled eggs, though now and then it might be nice. Like you, I’m not a big fan of cilantro, though if it doesn’t make its presence too obvious, I can live with it.
    Also like you–I once got a set of herbs from a friend who ordered them from Penzey, a midwestern purveyor of spices and herbs. The herbs were so incredibly fresh and fragrant that I stood there at the kitchen counter and opened one bottle after another, inhaling like a cat with a fresh batch of catnip. I’m an herboholic and not ashamed to admit it!!!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  23. From MJP:
    Maggie, you’re right that the quest for rich pigments is another fascinating topic. Someone should write a book on the subject–if it hasn’t been done already.
    Oooh, the joy of fresh herbs! Mint is a dangerous plant to have in your yard–some morning you might enter the kitchen and find the mint plant has invaded and is sitting there drinking your coffee. 🙂
    Margaret–why am I not surprised to learn you are a connoisseur of many cuisines? 🙂 The Singapore curry noodles sound lovely!
    Susan, much as I like garlic, I don’t necessarily see it as necessary to scrambled eggs, though now and then it might be nice. Like you, I’m not a big fan of cilantro, though if it doesn’t make its presence too obvious, I can live with it.
    Also like you–I once got a set of herbs from a friend who ordered them from Penzey, a midwestern purveyor of spices and herbs. The herbs were so incredibly fresh and fragrant that I stood there at the kitchen counter and opened one bottle after another, inhaling like a cat with a fresh batch of catnip. I’m an herboholic and not ashamed to admit it!!!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  24. From MJP:
    Maggie, you’re right that the quest for rich pigments is another fascinating topic. Someone should write a book on the subject–if it hasn’t been done already.
    Oooh, the joy of fresh herbs! Mint is a dangerous plant to have in your yard–some morning you might enter the kitchen and find the mint plant has invaded and is sitting there drinking your coffee. 🙂
    Margaret–why am I not surprised to learn you are a connoisseur of many cuisines? 🙂 The Singapore curry noodles sound lovely!
    Susan, much as I like garlic, I don’t necessarily see it as necessary to scrambled eggs, though now and then it might be nice. Like you, I’m not a big fan of cilantro, though if it doesn’t make its presence too obvious, I can live with it.
    Also like you–I once got a set of herbs from a friend who ordered them from Penzey, a midwestern purveyor of spices and herbs. The herbs were so incredibly fresh and fragrant that I stood there at the kitchen counter and opened one bottle after another, inhaling like a cat with a fresh batch of catnip. I’m an herboholic and not ashamed to admit it!!!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  25. From MJP:
    Maggie, you’re right that the quest for rich pigments is another fascinating topic. Someone should write a book on the subject–if it hasn’t been done already.
    Oooh, the joy of fresh herbs! Mint is a dangerous plant to have in your yard–some morning you might enter the kitchen and find the mint plant has invaded and is sitting there drinking your coffee. 🙂
    Margaret–why am I not surprised to learn you are a connoisseur of many cuisines? 🙂 The Singapore curry noodles sound lovely!
    Susan, much as I like garlic, I don’t necessarily see it as necessary to scrambled eggs, though now and then it might be nice. Like you, I’m not a big fan of cilantro, though if it doesn’t make its presence too obvious, I can live with it.
    Also like you–I once got a set of herbs from a friend who ordered them from Penzey, a midwestern purveyor of spices and herbs. The herbs were so incredibly fresh and fragrant that I stood there at the kitchen counter and opened one bottle after another, inhaling like a cat with a fresh batch of catnip. I’m an herboholic and not ashamed to admit it!!!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  26. So much of our world’s history has been propelled by the search for/trade in items exotic, expensive, illicit, or intoxicating: coffee, opium, tobacco, chocolate, gold–spices and dyes certainly belong on that list. Empires and fortunes have been made and lost in pursuit of them.
    I was in Toulouse, France recently which was once at the center of blue dye production (in medieval times?)–its fortunes rising and then falling in response to demand for that dye made from woad (some of the most magnificent houses in Toulouse were built by magnates in the woad industry).

    Reply
  27. So much of our world’s history has been propelled by the search for/trade in items exotic, expensive, illicit, or intoxicating: coffee, opium, tobacco, chocolate, gold–spices and dyes certainly belong on that list. Empires and fortunes have been made and lost in pursuit of them.
    I was in Toulouse, France recently which was once at the center of blue dye production (in medieval times?)–its fortunes rising and then falling in response to demand for that dye made from woad (some of the most magnificent houses in Toulouse were built by magnates in the woad industry).

    Reply
  28. So much of our world’s history has been propelled by the search for/trade in items exotic, expensive, illicit, or intoxicating: coffee, opium, tobacco, chocolate, gold–spices and dyes certainly belong on that list. Empires and fortunes have been made and lost in pursuit of them.
    I was in Toulouse, France recently which was once at the center of blue dye production (in medieval times?)–its fortunes rising and then falling in response to demand for that dye made from woad (some of the most magnificent houses in Toulouse were built by magnates in the woad industry).

    Reply
  29. So much of our world’s history has been propelled by the search for/trade in items exotic, expensive, illicit, or intoxicating: coffee, opium, tobacco, chocolate, gold–spices and dyes certainly belong on that list. Empires and fortunes have been made and lost in pursuit of them.
    I was in Toulouse, France recently which was once at the center of blue dye production (in medieval times?)–its fortunes rising and then falling in response to demand for that dye made from woad (some of the most magnificent houses in Toulouse were built by magnates in the woad industry).

    Reply
  30. So much of our world’s history has been propelled by the search for/trade in items exotic, expensive, illicit, or intoxicating: coffee, opium, tobacco, chocolate, gold–spices and dyes certainly belong on that list. Empires and fortunes have been made and lost in pursuit of them.
    I was in Toulouse, France recently which was once at the center of blue dye production (in medieval times?)–its fortunes rising and then falling in response to demand for that dye made from woad (some of the most magnificent houses in Toulouse were built by magnates in the woad industry).

    Reply
  31. During the holidays my dh brought home a bottle of nutmeg nuts and a teeny weeny grater.
    I’ll never go back to ground nutmeg!

    Reply
  32. During the holidays my dh brought home a bottle of nutmeg nuts and a teeny weeny grater.
    I’ll never go back to ground nutmeg!

    Reply
  33. During the holidays my dh brought home a bottle of nutmeg nuts and a teeny weeny grater.
    I’ll never go back to ground nutmeg!

    Reply
  34. During the holidays my dh brought home a bottle of nutmeg nuts and a teeny weeny grater.
    I’ll never go back to ground nutmeg!

    Reply
  35. During the holidays my dh brought home a bottle of nutmeg nuts and a teeny weeny grater.
    I’ll never go back to ground nutmeg!

    Reply
  36. Great post, Mary Jo. I love driving down I83 to the smell of allspice or vanilla cake mix. I had the chance to meet the president of McCormick. A very interesting and humble man.
    The smell of spices invoke many memories for me.
    Cloves, a cozy fire.
    Mint brings to mind lazy summer days.
    Vanilla, the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing Handel’s “Messiah.”
    BTW, I’m loving A DISTANT MAGIC.
    Nina

    Reply
  37. Great post, Mary Jo. I love driving down I83 to the smell of allspice or vanilla cake mix. I had the chance to meet the president of McCormick. A very interesting and humble man.
    The smell of spices invoke many memories for me.
    Cloves, a cozy fire.
    Mint brings to mind lazy summer days.
    Vanilla, the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing Handel’s “Messiah.”
    BTW, I’m loving A DISTANT MAGIC.
    Nina

    Reply
  38. Great post, Mary Jo. I love driving down I83 to the smell of allspice or vanilla cake mix. I had the chance to meet the president of McCormick. A very interesting and humble man.
    The smell of spices invoke many memories for me.
    Cloves, a cozy fire.
    Mint brings to mind lazy summer days.
    Vanilla, the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing Handel’s “Messiah.”
    BTW, I’m loving A DISTANT MAGIC.
    Nina

    Reply
  39. Great post, Mary Jo. I love driving down I83 to the smell of allspice or vanilla cake mix. I had the chance to meet the president of McCormick. A very interesting and humble man.
    The smell of spices invoke many memories for me.
    Cloves, a cozy fire.
    Mint brings to mind lazy summer days.
    Vanilla, the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing Handel’s “Messiah.”
    BTW, I’m loving A DISTANT MAGIC.
    Nina

    Reply
  40. Great post, Mary Jo. I love driving down I83 to the smell of allspice or vanilla cake mix. I had the chance to meet the president of McCormick. A very interesting and humble man.
    The smell of spices invoke many memories for me.
    Cloves, a cozy fire.
    Mint brings to mind lazy summer days.
    Vanilla, the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing Handel’s “Messiah.”
    BTW, I’m loving A DISTANT MAGIC.
    Nina

    Reply
  41. BTW, Mary Jo, one of your earlier WW posts was about your screened-in porch, which I am envious of. Now, I’m envious that you can smell freshly ground spice from your screened-in porch … while you sip tea … while you ponder your stories … while you watch your flowers grow …

    Reply
  42. BTW, Mary Jo, one of your earlier WW posts was about your screened-in porch, which I am envious of. Now, I’m envious that you can smell freshly ground spice from your screened-in porch … while you sip tea … while you ponder your stories … while you watch your flowers grow …

    Reply
  43. BTW, Mary Jo, one of your earlier WW posts was about your screened-in porch, which I am envious of. Now, I’m envious that you can smell freshly ground spice from your screened-in porch … while you sip tea … while you ponder your stories … while you watch your flowers grow …

    Reply
  44. BTW, Mary Jo, one of your earlier WW posts was about your screened-in porch, which I am envious of. Now, I’m envious that you can smell freshly ground spice from your screened-in porch … while you sip tea … while you ponder your stories … while you watch your flowers grow …

    Reply
  45. BTW, Mary Jo, one of your earlier WW posts was about your screened-in porch, which I am envious of. Now, I’m envious that you can smell freshly ground spice from your screened-in porch … while you sip tea … while you ponder your stories … while you watch your flowers grow …

    Reply
  46. May I recommend another book – (this time not by me or by one of my close friends)? This is *Dangerous tastes; the story of spices* by Andrew Dalby (2000). Dalby is a classicist by training, and the book is both scholarly and delightfully readable; as Mary Jo has made so clear, the subject is fascinating. Dalby also co-authored, with Sally Grainger, *The Classical Cookbook*, which is THE one to get for practical and usable ancient Greek and Roman recipes.
    🙂

    Reply
  47. May I recommend another book – (this time not by me or by one of my close friends)? This is *Dangerous tastes; the story of spices* by Andrew Dalby (2000). Dalby is a classicist by training, and the book is both scholarly and delightfully readable; as Mary Jo has made so clear, the subject is fascinating. Dalby also co-authored, with Sally Grainger, *The Classical Cookbook*, which is THE one to get for practical and usable ancient Greek and Roman recipes.
    🙂

    Reply
  48. May I recommend another book – (this time not by me or by one of my close friends)? This is *Dangerous tastes; the story of spices* by Andrew Dalby (2000). Dalby is a classicist by training, and the book is both scholarly and delightfully readable; as Mary Jo has made so clear, the subject is fascinating. Dalby also co-authored, with Sally Grainger, *The Classical Cookbook*, which is THE one to get for practical and usable ancient Greek and Roman recipes.
    🙂

    Reply
  49. May I recommend another book – (this time not by me or by one of my close friends)? This is *Dangerous tastes; the story of spices* by Andrew Dalby (2000). Dalby is a classicist by training, and the book is both scholarly and delightfully readable; as Mary Jo has made so clear, the subject is fascinating. Dalby also co-authored, with Sally Grainger, *The Classical Cookbook*, which is THE one to get for practical and usable ancient Greek and Roman recipes.
    🙂

    Reply
  50. May I recommend another book – (this time not by me or by one of my close friends)? This is *Dangerous tastes; the story of spices* by Andrew Dalby (2000). Dalby is a classicist by training, and the book is both scholarly and delightfully readable; as Mary Jo has made so clear, the subject is fascinating. Dalby also co-authored, with Sally Grainger, *The Classical Cookbook*, which is THE one to get for practical and usable ancient Greek and Roman recipes.
    🙂

    Reply
  51. One of our family jokes is for me to grab a few of our pretty jars of whole spices–nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and the like–and say, “Dear, let’s go back in time and get rich!” Because I have a good husband, he always laughs.
    We moved into a new place in April that has a southwest-facing deck off our bedroom. My husband planted several herbs–basil, Italian parsley, sage, and thyme. (No rosemary, so I guess we’re not going to Scarborough Fair.) It’s wonderful to just grab what I need off the deck before cooking dinner instead of paying the exorbitant prices for those tiny packs of fresh herbs.

    Reply
  52. One of our family jokes is for me to grab a few of our pretty jars of whole spices–nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and the like–and say, “Dear, let’s go back in time and get rich!” Because I have a good husband, he always laughs.
    We moved into a new place in April that has a southwest-facing deck off our bedroom. My husband planted several herbs–basil, Italian parsley, sage, and thyme. (No rosemary, so I guess we’re not going to Scarborough Fair.) It’s wonderful to just grab what I need off the deck before cooking dinner instead of paying the exorbitant prices for those tiny packs of fresh herbs.

    Reply
  53. One of our family jokes is for me to grab a few of our pretty jars of whole spices–nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and the like–and say, “Dear, let’s go back in time and get rich!” Because I have a good husband, he always laughs.
    We moved into a new place in April that has a southwest-facing deck off our bedroom. My husband planted several herbs–basil, Italian parsley, sage, and thyme. (No rosemary, so I guess we’re not going to Scarborough Fair.) It’s wonderful to just grab what I need off the deck before cooking dinner instead of paying the exorbitant prices for those tiny packs of fresh herbs.

    Reply
  54. One of our family jokes is for me to grab a few of our pretty jars of whole spices–nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and the like–and say, “Dear, let’s go back in time and get rich!” Because I have a good husband, he always laughs.
    We moved into a new place in April that has a southwest-facing deck off our bedroom. My husband planted several herbs–basil, Italian parsley, sage, and thyme. (No rosemary, so I guess we’re not going to Scarborough Fair.) It’s wonderful to just grab what I need off the deck before cooking dinner instead of paying the exorbitant prices for those tiny packs of fresh herbs.

    Reply
  55. One of our family jokes is for me to grab a few of our pretty jars of whole spices–nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and the like–and say, “Dear, let’s go back in time and get rich!” Because I have a good husband, he always laughs.
    We moved into a new place in April that has a southwest-facing deck off our bedroom. My husband planted several herbs–basil, Italian parsley, sage, and thyme. (No rosemary, so I guess we’re not going to Scarborough Fair.) It’s wonderful to just grab what I need off the deck before cooking dinner instead of paying the exorbitant prices for those tiny packs of fresh herbs.

    Reply
  56. Jo here. I love aromas, so of course I love herbs and spices. I have a huge trailing rosemary when I cook with rosemary sparingly. I just love to pluck some and smell.
    Same with mint, which I manage to kill sometimes, which is quite a feat! I have thyme bordering paths, and lavender, too.
    There are nutmeg graters that are similar to pepper grinders. Much easier on the nails and knuckles.
    Fresh ground, yes, or fresh picked. When possible, it’s the best way.
    I believe true saffron is still the most expensive edible in the world. There’s an inferior variety, but the real stuff is so pricy I’m always too nervous to use it generously enough to get the benefit.
    Hmmm. I wonder if it’s possible to grow the croci? It used to be the crop in Saffron Walden, after all.
    Thanks for the aromatic stroll, Mary Jo!
    Jo

    Reply
  57. Jo here. I love aromas, so of course I love herbs and spices. I have a huge trailing rosemary when I cook with rosemary sparingly. I just love to pluck some and smell.
    Same with mint, which I manage to kill sometimes, which is quite a feat! I have thyme bordering paths, and lavender, too.
    There are nutmeg graters that are similar to pepper grinders. Much easier on the nails and knuckles.
    Fresh ground, yes, or fresh picked. When possible, it’s the best way.
    I believe true saffron is still the most expensive edible in the world. There’s an inferior variety, but the real stuff is so pricy I’m always too nervous to use it generously enough to get the benefit.
    Hmmm. I wonder if it’s possible to grow the croci? It used to be the crop in Saffron Walden, after all.
    Thanks for the aromatic stroll, Mary Jo!
    Jo

    Reply
  58. Jo here. I love aromas, so of course I love herbs and spices. I have a huge trailing rosemary when I cook with rosemary sparingly. I just love to pluck some and smell.
    Same with mint, which I manage to kill sometimes, which is quite a feat! I have thyme bordering paths, and lavender, too.
    There are nutmeg graters that are similar to pepper grinders. Much easier on the nails and knuckles.
    Fresh ground, yes, or fresh picked. When possible, it’s the best way.
    I believe true saffron is still the most expensive edible in the world. There’s an inferior variety, but the real stuff is so pricy I’m always too nervous to use it generously enough to get the benefit.
    Hmmm. I wonder if it’s possible to grow the croci? It used to be the crop in Saffron Walden, after all.
    Thanks for the aromatic stroll, Mary Jo!
    Jo

    Reply
  59. Jo here. I love aromas, so of course I love herbs and spices. I have a huge trailing rosemary when I cook with rosemary sparingly. I just love to pluck some and smell.
    Same with mint, which I manage to kill sometimes, which is quite a feat! I have thyme bordering paths, and lavender, too.
    There are nutmeg graters that are similar to pepper grinders. Much easier on the nails and knuckles.
    Fresh ground, yes, or fresh picked. When possible, it’s the best way.
    I believe true saffron is still the most expensive edible in the world. There’s an inferior variety, but the real stuff is so pricy I’m always too nervous to use it generously enough to get the benefit.
    Hmmm. I wonder if it’s possible to grow the croci? It used to be the crop in Saffron Walden, after all.
    Thanks for the aromatic stroll, Mary Jo!
    Jo

    Reply
  60. Jo here. I love aromas, so of course I love herbs and spices. I have a huge trailing rosemary when I cook with rosemary sparingly. I just love to pluck some and smell.
    Same with mint, which I manage to kill sometimes, which is quite a feat! I have thyme bordering paths, and lavender, too.
    There are nutmeg graters that are similar to pepper grinders. Much easier on the nails and knuckles.
    Fresh ground, yes, or fresh picked. When possible, it’s the best way.
    I believe true saffron is still the most expensive edible in the world. There’s an inferior variety, but the real stuff is so pricy I’m always too nervous to use it generously enough to get the benefit.
    Hmmm. I wonder if it’s possible to grow the croci? It used to be the crop in Saffron Walden, after all.
    Thanks for the aromatic stroll, Mary Jo!
    Jo

    Reply
  61. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. One of my favorite spices is black pepper. I love the taste and smell of it. I’ve been known to take nose hits from a jar of pepper on my desk. In fact, I just noticed that the jar of pepper by my desk lamp is Spice Islands brand. Naturally, I had to take the cap off and inhale deeply. *g*
    I use spices a lot in my cooking, and have developed my own special blend that I use for chicken. It has become so popular with friends and family that I make up big batches and give it aways as Christmas gifts.
    Though it’s not a spice, I have a spray of lavender sitting by the numbers keypad on my keyboard. I picked it just this evening.
    My rosemary plant seems to be a magnet for feral cats. They constantly back up to it and spray, so I use a *different* rosemary plant for cooking, and wash it well!

    Reply
  62. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. One of my favorite spices is black pepper. I love the taste and smell of it. I’ve been known to take nose hits from a jar of pepper on my desk. In fact, I just noticed that the jar of pepper by my desk lamp is Spice Islands brand. Naturally, I had to take the cap off and inhale deeply. *g*
    I use spices a lot in my cooking, and have developed my own special blend that I use for chicken. It has become so popular with friends and family that I make up big batches and give it aways as Christmas gifts.
    Though it’s not a spice, I have a spray of lavender sitting by the numbers keypad on my keyboard. I picked it just this evening.
    My rosemary plant seems to be a magnet for feral cats. They constantly back up to it and spray, so I use a *different* rosemary plant for cooking, and wash it well!

    Reply
  63. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. One of my favorite spices is black pepper. I love the taste and smell of it. I’ve been known to take nose hits from a jar of pepper on my desk. In fact, I just noticed that the jar of pepper by my desk lamp is Spice Islands brand. Naturally, I had to take the cap off and inhale deeply. *g*
    I use spices a lot in my cooking, and have developed my own special blend that I use for chicken. It has become so popular with friends and family that I make up big batches and give it aways as Christmas gifts.
    Though it’s not a spice, I have a spray of lavender sitting by the numbers keypad on my keyboard. I picked it just this evening.
    My rosemary plant seems to be a magnet for feral cats. They constantly back up to it and spray, so I use a *different* rosemary plant for cooking, and wash it well!

    Reply
  64. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. One of my favorite spices is black pepper. I love the taste and smell of it. I’ve been known to take nose hits from a jar of pepper on my desk. In fact, I just noticed that the jar of pepper by my desk lamp is Spice Islands brand. Naturally, I had to take the cap off and inhale deeply. *g*
    I use spices a lot in my cooking, and have developed my own special blend that I use for chicken. It has become so popular with friends and family that I make up big batches and give it aways as Christmas gifts.
    Though it’s not a spice, I have a spray of lavender sitting by the numbers keypad on my keyboard. I picked it just this evening.
    My rosemary plant seems to be a magnet for feral cats. They constantly back up to it and spray, so I use a *different* rosemary plant for cooking, and wash it well!

    Reply
  65. Wonderful post, Mary Jo. One of my favorite spices is black pepper. I love the taste and smell of it. I’ve been known to take nose hits from a jar of pepper on my desk. In fact, I just noticed that the jar of pepper by my desk lamp is Spice Islands brand. Naturally, I had to take the cap off and inhale deeply. *g*
    I use spices a lot in my cooking, and have developed my own special blend that I use for chicken. It has become so popular with friends and family that I make up big batches and give it aways as Christmas gifts.
    Though it’s not a spice, I have a spray of lavender sitting by the numbers keypad on my keyboard. I picked it just this evening.
    My rosemary plant seems to be a magnet for feral cats. They constantly back up to it and spray, so I use a *different* rosemary plant for cooking, and wash it well!

    Reply
  66. Mary Jo, a few years ago I read Victoria Finlay’s fascinating Color: A Natural History of the Palette, where she traced the routes and roots of each color and its opriginal production. If you can find it, it’d definitely worth a read.

    Reply
  67. Mary Jo, a few years ago I read Victoria Finlay’s fascinating Color: A Natural History of the Palette, where she traced the routes and roots of each color and its opriginal production. If you can find it, it’d definitely worth a read.

    Reply
  68. Mary Jo, a few years ago I read Victoria Finlay’s fascinating Color: A Natural History of the Palette, where she traced the routes and roots of each color and its opriginal production. If you can find it, it’d definitely worth a read.

    Reply
  69. Mary Jo, a few years ago I read Victoria Finlay’s fascinating Color: A Natural History of the Palette, where she traced the routes and roots of each color and its opriginal production. If you can find it, it’d definitely worth a read.

    Reply
  70. Mary Jo, a few years ago I read Victoria Finlay’s fascinating Color: A Natural History of the Palette, where she traced the routes and roots of each color and its opriginal production. If you can find it, it’d definitely worth a read.

    Reply
  71. I was surprised to see Cincinnati Chili mentioned. I am from a small town outside of cincinnati. . I buy it in the store here. It is good but it is always better in the restaurant. I am going home for a visit the end of the month and will definitely have Cincinnati Chili while I am there.

    Reply
  72. I was surprised to see Cincinnati Chili mentioned. I am from a small town outside of cincinnati. . I buy it in the store here. It is good but it is always better in the restaurant. I am going home for a visit the end of the month and will definitely have Cincinnati Chili while I am there.

    Reply
  73. I was surprised to see Cincinnati Chili mentioned. I am from a small town outside of cincinnati. . I buy it in the store here. It is good but it is always better in the restaurant. I am going home for a visit the end of the month and will definitely have Cincinnati Chili while I am there.

    Reply
  74. I was surprised to see Cincinnati Chili mentioned. I am from a small town outside of cincinnati. . I buy it in the store here. It is good but it is always better in the restaurant. I am going home for a visit the end of the month and will definitely have Cincinnati Chili while I am there.

    Reply
  75. I was surprised to see Cincinnati Chili mentioned. I am from a small town outside of cincinnati. . I buy it in the store here. It is good but it is always better in the restaurant. I am going home for a visit the end of the month and will definitely have Cincinnati Chili while I am there.

    Reply
  76. From MJP:
    Maggie and AdTigress, thanks for the book suggestions. They both sound wonderful. Books that really get into the depths of something we take for granted are fascinating.
    Fresh ground nutmeg is to die for, grated fingernails less so. 🙂 I usually only grate about half a nutmeg, and when it gets difficult, I save the other half to toss into hot cider at a holiday party.
    Nina, the fact that you commute right by the McCormick campus makes you especially fortunate in the herb and spice appreciation stakes! I love how vanilla reminds you of Handel’s “Messiah,” possibly the greatest choral work ever written.
    Cathy, you’re right, the screened porch is one of the best things I ever did for the house and myself. It’s not very large, but the view of trees, flowers, birds and squirrels–and the sometimes scent of spice, make it wonderfully addictive. I have a ceiling fan, too, so I can enjoy the space even in the hotter weather. I’m not particularly an outdoor sort, but I adore my porch.
    Sherrie, I’m glad you qualified which rosemary you use for cooking.g 🙂 Boring pre-ground pepper can make us take it for granted, when in fact, the fresh ground stuff is amazing. I like the McCormick mixed peppercorn blend that comes in a little one-use grinder. They throw some allspices in with the peppercorns, and the effect is wonderful.
    Joan, one of my really good buddies lives in Cincinnati, and the first I visited her she took me to a Skyline Chili stand, with much defensiveness about how it wasn’t much but Cincinnatians liked it.
    Well, I ADORED it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the breed, there is a thin meat sauce deliciously spiced of mideastern flavors (apparently Greeks invented it), and it’s served over very thin pasta noodles–capellini, probably. And you can add more toppings–kidney beans, chopped onions, and there’s one more, I think. This gives you two way, three way, or four way chili. (Joan would know more.) And the mixture is topped with very thinly shredded cheese, and you mash oyster crackers in with it all. This may sound alarming, but it tastes fabulous. Health food it’s not, but definitely fabulous. 🙂 ANd best followed by Graeter’s ice cream, another fine local tradition.
    I know make excuses to visit Cincinnati whenever I can. 🙂 I’ve ordered canned Skyline chili online and it’s pretty goood, but not the same.
    Mary Jo, who has made herself hungry for lunch.

    Reply
  77. From MJP:
    Maggie and AdTigress, thanks for the book suggestions. They both sound wonderful. Books that really get into the depths of something we take for granted are fascinating.
    Fresh ground nutmeg is to die for, grated fingernails less so. 🙂 I usually only grate about half a nutmeg, and when it gets difficult, I save the other half to toss into hot cider at a holiday party.
    Nina, the fact that you commute right by the McCormick campus makes you especially fortunate in the herb and spice appreciation stakes! I love how vanilla reminds you of Handel’s “Messiah,” possibly the greatest choral work ever written.
    Cathy, you’re right, the screened porch is one of the best things I ever did for the house and myself. It’s not very large, but the view of trees, flowers, birds and squirrels–and the sometimes scent of spice, make it wonderfully addictive. I have a ceiling fan, too, so I can enjoy the space even in the hotter weather. I’m not particularly an outdoor sort, but I adore my porch.
    Sherrie, I’m glad you qualified which rosemary you use for cooking.g 🙂 Boring pre-ground pepper can make us take it for granted, when in fact, the fresh ground stuff is amazing. I like the McCormick mixed peppercorn blend that comes in a little one-use grinder. They throw some allspices in with the peppercorns, and the effect is wonderful.
    Joan, one of my really good buddies lives in Cincinnati, and the first I visited her she took me to a Skyline Chili stand, with much defensiveness about how it wasn’t much but Cincinnatians liked it.
    Well, I ADORED it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the breed, there is a thin meat sauce deliciously spiced of mideastern flavors (apparently Greeks invented it), and it’s served over very thin pasta noodles–capellini, probably. And you can add more toppings–kidney beans, chopped onions, and there’s one more, I think. This gives you two way, three way, or four way chili. (Joan would know more.) And the mixture is topped with very thinly shredded cheese, and you mash oyster crackers in with it all. This may sound alarming, but it tastes fabulous. Health food it’s not, but definitely fabulous. 🙂 ANd best followed by Graeter’s ice cream, another fine local tradition.
    I know make excuses to visit Cincinnati whenever I can. 🙂 I’ve ordered canned Skyline chili online and it’s pretty goood, but not the same.
    Mary Jo, who has made herself hungry for lunch.

    Reply
  78. From MJP:
    Maggie and AdTigress, thanks for the book suggestions. They both sound wonderful. Books that really get into the depths of something we take for granted are fascinating.
    Fresh ground nutmeg is to die for, grated fingernails less so. 🙂 I usually only grate about half a nutmeg, and when it gets difficult, I save the other half to toss into hot cider at a holiday party.
    Nina, the fact that you commute right by the McCormick campus makes you especially fortunate in the herb and spice appreciation stakes! I love how vanilla reminds you of Handel’s “Messiah,” possibly the greatest choral work ever written.
    Cathy, you’re right, the screened porch is one of the best things I ever did for the house and myself. It’s not very large, but the view of trees, flowers, birds and squirrels–and the sometimes scent of spice, make it wonderfully addictive. I have a ceiling fan, too, so I can enjoy the space even in the hotter weather. I’m not particularly an outdoor sort, but I adore my porch.
    Sherrie, I’m glad you qualified which rosemary you use for cooking.g 🙂 Boring pre-ground pepper can make us take it for granted, when in fact, the fresh ground stuff is amazing. I like the McCormick mixed peppercorn blend that comes in a little one-use grinder. They throw some allspices in with the peppercorns, and the effect is wonderful.
    Joan, one of my really good buddies lives in Cincinnati, and the first I visited her she took me to a Skyline Chili stand, with much defensiveness about how it wasn’t much but Cincinnatians liked it.
    Well, I ADORED it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the breed, there is a thin meat sauce deliciously spiced of mideastern flavors (apparently Greeks invented it), and it’s served over very thin pasta noodles–capellini, probably. And you can add more toppings–kidney beans, chopped onions, and there’s one more, I think. This gives you two way, three way, or four way chili. (Joan would know more.) And the mixture is topped with very thinly shredded cheese, and you mash oyster crackers in with it all. This may sound alarming, but it tastes fabulous. Health food it’s not, but definitely fabulous. 🙂 ANd best followed by Graeter’s ice cream, another fine local tradition.
    I know make excuses to visit Cincinnati whenever I can. 🙂 I’ve ordered canned Skyline chili online and it’s pretty goood, but not the same.
    Mary Jo, who has made herself hungry for lunch.

    Reply
  79. From MJP:
    Maggie and AdTigress, thanks for the book suggestions. They both sound wonderful. Books that really get into the depths of something we take for granted are fascinating.
    Fresh ground nutmeg is to die for, grated fingernails less so. 🙂 I usually only grate about half a nutmeg, and when it gets difficult, I save the other half to toss into hot cider at a holiday party.
    Nina, the fact that you commute right by the McCormick campus makes you especially fortunate in the herb and spice appreciation stakes! I love how vanilla reminds you of Handel’s “Messiah,” possibly the greatest choral work ever written.
    Cathy, you’re right, the screened porch is one of the best things I ever did for the house and myself. It’s not very large, but the view of trees, flowers, birds and squirrels–and the sometimes scent of spice, make it wonderfully addictive. I have a ceiling fan, too, so I can enjoy the space even in the hotter weather. I’m not particularly an outdoor sort, but I adore my porch.
    Sherrie, I’m glad you qualified which rosemary you use for cooking.g 🙂 Boring pre-ground pepper can make us take it for granted, when in fact, the fresh ground stuff is amazing. I like the McCormick mixed peppercorn blend that comes in a little one-use grinder. They throw some allspices in with the peppercorns, and the effect is wonderful.
    Joan, one of my really good buddies lives in Cincinnati, and the first I visited her she took me to a Skyline Chili stand, with much defensiveness about how it wasn’t much but Cincinnatians liked it.
    Well, I ADORED it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the breed, there is a thin meat sauce deliciously spiced of mideastern flavors (apparently Greeks invented it), and it’s served over very thin pasta noodles–capellini, probably. And you can add more toppings–kidney beans, chopped onions, and there’s one more, I think. This gives you two way, three way, or four way chili. (Joan would know more.) And the mixture is topped with very thinly shredded cheese, and you mash oyster crackers in with it all. This may sound alarming, but it tastes fabulous. Health food it’s not, but definitely fabulous. 🙂 ANd best followed by Graeter’s ice cream, another fine local tradition.
    I know make excuses to visit Cincinnati whenever I can. 🙂 I’ve ordered canned Skyline chili online and it’s pretty goood, but not the same.
    Mary Jo, who has made herself hungry for lunch.

    Reply
  80. From MJP:
    Maggie and AdTigress, thanks for the book suggestions. They both sound wonderful. Books that really get into the depths of something we take for granted are fascinating.
    Fresh ground nutmeg is to die for, grated fingernails less so. 🙂 I usually only grate about half a nutmeg, and when it gets difficult, I save the other half to toss into hot cider at a holiday party.
    Nina, the fact that you commute right by the McCormick campus makes you especially fortunate in the herb and spice appreciation stakes! I love how vanilla reminds you of Handel’s “Messiah,” possibly the greatest choral work ever written.
    Cathy, you’re right, the screened porch is one of the best things I ever did for the house and myself. It’s not very large, but the view of trees, flowers, birds and squirrels–and the sometimes scent of spice, make it wonderfully addictive. I have a ceiling fan, too, so I can enjoy the space even in the hotter weather. I’m not particularly an outdoor sort, but I adore my porch.
    Sherrie, I’m glad you qualified which rosemary you use for cooking.g 🙂 Boring pre-ground pepper can make us take it for granted, when in fact, the fresh ground stuff is amazing. I like the McCormick mixed peppercorn blend that comes in a little one-use grinder. They throw some allspices in with the peppercorns, and the effect is wonderful.
    Joan, one of my really good buddies lives in Cincinnati, and the first I visited her she took me to a Skyline Chili stand, with much defensiveness about how it wasn’t much but Cincinnatians liked it.
    Well, I ADORED it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the breed, there is a thin meat sauce deliciously spiced of mideastern flavors (apparently Greeks invented it), and it’s served over very thin pasta noodles–capellini, probably. And you can add more toppings–kidney beans, chopped onions, and there’s one more, I think. This gives you two way, three way, or four way chili. (Joan would know more.) And the mixture is topped with very thinly shredded cheese, and you mash oyster crackers in with it all. This may sound alarming, but it tastes fabulous. Health food it’s not, but definitely fabulous. 🙂 ANd best followed by Graeter’s ice cream, another fine local tradition.
    I know make excuses to visit Cincinnati whenever I can. 🙂 I’ve ordered canned Skyline chili online and it’s pretty goood, but not the same.
    Mary Jo, who has made herself hungry for lunch.

    Reply
  81. I chose Finlay’s book for our reading group, but then found others I preferred:
    Colors : the story of dyes and pigments /
    by Delamare, François; and Bright earth : art and the invention of color /
    by Ball, Philip, 1962- . The Delamare is a small thin volume with lots of illustrations, and the Ball a much longer one.

    Reply
  82. I chose Finlay’s book for our reading group, but then found others I preferred:
    Colors : the story of dyes and pigments /
    by Delamare, François; and Bright earth : art and the invention of color /
    by Ball, Philip, 1962- . The Delamare is a small thin volume with lots of illustrations, and the Ball a much longer one.

    Reply
  83. I chose Finlay’s book for our reading group, but then found others I preferred:
    Colors : the story of dyes and pigments /
    by Delamare, François; and Bright earth : art and the invention of color /
    by Ball, Philip, 1962- . The Delamare is a small thin volume with lots of illustrations, and the Ball a much longer one.

    Reply
  84. I chose Finlay’s book for our reading group, but then found others I preferred:
    Colors : the story of dyes and pigments /
    by Delamare, François; and Bright earth : art and the invention of color /
    by Ball, Philip, 1962- . The Delamare is a small thin volume with lots of illustrations, and the Ball a much longer one.

    Reply
  85. I chose Finlay’s book for our reading group, but then found others I preferred:
    Colors : the story of dyes and pigments /
    by Delamare, François; and Bright earth : art and the invention of color /
    by Ball, Philip, 1962- . The Delamare is a small thin volume with lots of illustrations, and the Ball a much longer one.

    Reply

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