Ode To Spices

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Jan 27, 2020
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8,120
What are your favorite spices? I like cardamon. Sometimes I even break open a pod in the evening and chew on the innards and always put a dash of freshly ground cardamon in my Scottish oatmeal. I have never used mace unless it was contained in some spice blend and was surprised to find that it's the outer portion of nutmeg. Interesting that the British seem to lean on certain spices more than other parts of Europe; such as clove, mace, nutmeg, allspice etc. Where more sunny destinations on the continent with longer growing seasons seem to use herbs more, like Italy. I like cumin as well although it sort of smells like sweat. Cinnamon, seems to be overused in the US, and my girlfriend who is French strongly dislikes it and I've known a few other French who said the same.

Anyways, I'd be interested in hearing about some less used spices which people here use in their cooking. Has anyone tried incorporating fenugreek, for example, in non-Indian or Yemini cooking?
 
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Jul 26, 2021
2,129
8,805
Metro-Detroit
I season nearly everything with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (occassionally with white or brown sugar for some balance). My spice cupboard is full and I have a spice rack on the counter.

I separate spices by meal type with some overlap, such as BBQ (rubs, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne), Asian (ginger, garam masala, curry), Mediterranean (lemon pepper, cumin, oregano), and oddities (tarragon, old bay, dill, jerk).

While I enjoy complex flavors of curry (and recently made garam masala and lemon pepper wings that were a flavor bomb), sometimes basic is better. For example, my roast chicken recipe has 6 ingredients (including spices, the chicken, and sauce).

The key is to season everything and adjust for balance.
 
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Jan 27, 2020
4,002
8,120
I season nearly everything with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (occassionally with white or brown sugar for some balance). My spice cupboard is full and I have a spice rack on the counter.

I separate spices by meal type with some overlap, such as BBQ (rubs, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne), Asian (ginger, garam masala, curry), Mediterranean (lemon pepper, cumin, oregano), and oddities (tarragon, old bay, dill, jerk).

While I enjoy complex flavors of curry (and recently made garam masala and lemon pepper wings that were a flavor bomb), sometimes basic is better. For example, my roast chicken recipe has 6 ingredients (including spices, the chicken, and sauce).

The key is to season everything and adjust for balance.

Some of those things aren't actually spices not to mention that garlic powder is a crime against garlic.

Spice = bark, fruit, seed from a plant while herb is from the leaf.
 
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Jan 27, 2020
4,002
8,120
If garlic powder is a crime, then I feloniously assault food as a habitual offender with no remorse.

Meanwhile herbs and spices have intermingled since before segregation was illegal.

Everything has its place and the food police are not real.

I never said I was against mingling herb n spice but making the distinction clear as it's spice I was looking to discuss.
 

SBC

Lifer
Oct 6, 2021
1,512
7,221
NE Wisconsin
I recently shipped some tobacco as "baking spices." 'Cause you know you COULD bake with it. I guess "herb" would have been closer to the mark, but it's what I meant.

But more to the point, I discovered awhile ago that sage was what I had been tasting for years in a friend's superb gravy. I've been adding sage to my gravies ever since, and it's now indispensible to me. But again, that's an herb, if you want to be a stickler about it.

Well, that's for a meat gravy I build from onions and butter -- if I'm doing my giblet gravy at Thanksgiving, marjoram is what I'm looking for.

As for true spices, I'm a fan of many of the sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
 
Jan 27, 2020
4,002
8,120
I recently shipped some tobacco as "baking spices." 'Cause you know you COULD bake with it. I guess "herb" would have been closer to the mark, but it's what I meant.

But more to the point, I discovered awhile ago that sage was what I had been tasting for years in a friend's superb gravy. I've been adding sage to my gravies ever since, and it's now indispensible to me. But again, that's an herb, if you want to be a stickler about it.

Well, that's for a meat gravy I build from onions and butter -- if I'm doing my giblet gravy at Thanksgiving, marjoram is what I'm looking for.

As for true spices, I'm a fan of many of the sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
I agree that marjoram is a wonderful and oft underused herb.
 
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SBC

Lifer
Oct 6, 2021
1,512
7,221
NE Wisconsin
You know, we could receive nutrition without flavor. Herbs and spices are superfluous pleasures just because God loves us. That should inspire a special sort of gratitude.
 
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OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,655
30,024
71
Sydney, Australia
What are your favorite spices? I like cardamon. Sometimes I even break open a pod in the evening and chew on the innards and always put a dash of freshly ground cardamon in my Scottish oatmeal. I have never used mace unless it was contained in some spice blend and was surprised to find that it's the outer portion of nutmeg. Interesting that the British seem to lean on certain spices more than other parts of Europe; such as clove, mace, nutmeg, allspice etc. Where more sunny destinations on the continent with longer growing seasons seem to use herbs more, like Italy. I like cumin as well although it sort of smells like sweat. Cinnamon, seems to be overused in the US, and my girlfriend who is French strongly dislikes it and I've known a few other French who said the same.

Anyways, I'd be interested in hearing about some less used spices which people here use in their cooking. Has anyone tried incorporating fenugreek, for example, in non-Indian or Yemini cooking?
The (English) East India Company controlled a lot of the spice trade.
Along with tea and opium
 
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Zeno Marx

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 10, 2022
234
1,252
Szechuan pepper. gochu (think kimchi). gochujang. Sambal Oelek. light and dark soy sauce. getting a little off the path here with sauces, but rather than try to make my own, I use things like this for spice. also into several Indian spices, like madras curry, tumeric, cumin, coriander. can't forget the bright and freshness of Mediterranean food, with mint, lemon, toasted sesame seeds, etc. not so much a fan of clove or anise though. a tiny, tiny bit of clove can be OK, but I can easily get overwhelmed with it. I wish I knew more about all the interesting and fantastic dried peppers used in Mexican cooking.

It should go without saying that spices are comparatively dirt cheaper in ethnic grocery stores vs the "international" aisles at general American grocery stores. I think I got 8 or 12oz of madras curry the last time at an Indian grocery for like $2.99, and 16oz of gochu for $5.99 at an Asian market.
 
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bluegrassbrian

Your Mom's Favorite Pipe Smoker
Aug 27, 2016
5,832
48,822
40
Louisville
I order from Penzeys on a regular basis.
Best spices on the web, but my zod, it takes literal days for them to fulfill internet orders.

I've always been a big fan of whole cloves, and Penzeys offers both Ceylon and Madagascar.
 
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