As the Spice Girls sang, “every boy and every girl, spice up your life!”
Sure, they didn’t mean it like kitchenistas do, but that’s what makes that line fun: its versatility. Just like spices and herbs!
Now, I’m still learning about uses of herbs in my own cooking, so my spice rack, inherited from my mom, is a work in progress, starting with the basics: rosemary, black pepper, thyme, salt, garlic powder, oregano, chili pepper flakes. Three of those are there thanks to a recent pizza pie order (garlic, oregano, chili). A couple of months ago, I added cumin, curry, cinnamon, and, because I couldn’t find coriander, 21-seasoning-spice.
So many of the stews and soups I’m bookmarking call for these latest ingredients to add a savory and spicy kick, even the ones that aren’t inspired by Indian, Thai, or other ethnic cuisine. What a shock it is for the novice cook, that spices are STAPLES of all kitchens!
Herbs are the glues that hold our lives and senses together. Used in cooking/culinary pursuits, medicines (medical herb visual), spiritual remedies and ceremonies, and as decoration, herbs are versatile beauties that are also easy to grow and use. They appear everywhere – any part of a plant, from the leaves to the bark, count – and examples include thyme, rosemary, lavender, bay laurel and myrrh (seen in incense!).
Spices are herbs specifically used for aromatic and flavor purposes, typically in cooking. Popular examples include thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and mint. Oh, and coriander and dill. You get – taste! – the picture.
I have a lot to learn about herbs and spices, despite the fact that I consider myself enamored of them ever since I first started reading books, playing Oregon Trail, and adoring nature. I never truly realized or acknowledged just how much of an observer in life I’ve been. I haven’t necessarily molded it myself, understanding the foundations, manipulating the ingredients. I would love to cook up my own version of nature. Join me?