Sometimes life contains too much spice
I think it was the rock group the Byrds who sang, "To everything, there is a seasoning, and a thyme for every purpose under heaven." Or something like that. And how true that is. Especially in my kitchen cabinet, where there are so many bottles and boxes of seasonings that I have to turn, turn, turn through heaps of them to find the one blasted bottle of cumin I'm looking for. I know there's cumin in there among the dusty culinary archeological specimens because I bought some just a few weeks prior.
There are a few spices I can't live without: garlic powder, chili powder and cumin being the holy triumvirate, a combination that can turn any mysterious foodlike substance hiding in the back of your refrigerator into an, if not delicious, at least edible entree.
There may well be a thyme for every purpose under heaven, but on my spice shelf ground cinnamon reigns supreme. I unearth five (FIVE!) bottles of the stuff, three of them not even opened as I go spelunking for my cumin. I can't remember the last time we even used cinnamon. I recall eating some cinnamon toast back in the wispy recesses of time, but nothing we ever eat can account for this mother lode of cinnamon, including the bottle of "Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon." And what's this? A bottle of cinnamon sticks! Is there another family living in this house, under the stairs perhaps, that loves cinnamon?
I'm amazed by the vast array of spices on the shelf that we never use, some clearly dating back to the Kennedy administration. Two bottles of browning and seasoning sauce for making gravy. Where it came from, I haven't a clue. You don't make gravy from a browning sauce. Everyone knows you make gravy from powder that comes in an envelope.
More alarming are the number of bottles of ground cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, turmeric and curry powders of various strengths. Why are they here? I hate curry. Is my wife a secret curry addict, whipping up batches while I am out of the house? And what the hell is cardamom, anyway?
Why do we have three bottles of ground ginger, two bottles of poultry seasoning and a Ziploc baggie of what looks to be a kilo of crushed basil leaves? At least, I think it's basil. It looks like the kind of thing the DEA finds when they ransack your house. (So I've been told.)
There are mysterious objects here too among the spicy rubble: bay leaves that look to be 400 years old; dill weed that looks like something you vacuum off your carpet; poppy seeds that time and tide have fused together; and what's this? Another bottle of ground ginger? They don't have this much ginger in the International Teriyaki Museum.
I suspect many homes have such a spice shelf, its cache of ancient seasoning relics giving mute testimony to past dreams of elegant meals and, apparently, recipes involving lots of cinnamon.
I finally find the cumin on the countertop next to the salt and pepper. Where it should be. Good. Now I can have my breakfast cereal.
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