When you really begin cooking, you realize that a dish is not the same without spices. In fact, I would argue that often times, the spices make the dish. Spices, I think, are especially critical in the fall, when the flavors of summer are passing and you are faced with a new spread of produce to prepare. Just for a minute, think of fall without spices: imagine pumpkin pie without cinnamon and cloves; or consider your favorite chili without chili powder and cumin. Recently, I have been exploring this element of cooking and I am currently in a state of: overwhelmed, but in only the best sense of the word.
Then I began thinking about the internet and cookbooks. Technology is so helpful in sharing knowledge and wisdom with others, but I feel as though our culture has lost the beauty of the human relationship in cooking. It seems that our meal times are often spent rushing from place to place, eating our meals from a box, and though our stomachs are filled, we still feel hungry. Perhaps we are yearning for the community that once was a part of food. Surely, it is a wonderful thing to be able to hop on the web, and search for what spices to use or what recipe to use. But, let me just say, the internet would not have suggested ancho chiles to me, like the woman from the Spice House. I cannot have a conversation with the internet. And, suddenly, cooking and learning becomes a solitary act, rather than a communal experience. And what fun is that, to cook alone?
When I left the Spice House today, I was so excited to start exploring the many levels of flavor that are a part of chili powder, and I was excited to have had a conversation about it. And when I left the Spice House, the woman I had been talking with said to me, "keep fighting the good fight".
Spices are critical to completing a dish. Similarly, food is not complete without conversation and human relationships. Really, I have come to believe that these are fundamental elements to the food experience. It seems that these elements are as nourishing, if not more, than the food it self.
On that note, happy eating!