We've had this on our minds for quite a while now. How did we derive a taste for flavours? How do herbs and spices make our food taste better? Where shall we even start?
Let's go back to square one. As in many other examples in human history, similar discoveries have been made concurrently in different places around the world; whether in ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls or on archaeological sites in India. Leading to the conclusion that the use of spices seems to have been widespread even before written records began. Elders would pass the knowledge onto future generations about plants and herbs with healing properties found in the local vegetation. Accrued either by chance or simply by the acts of curiosity, these facts led not only to survival but more importantly to the development of tastes and flavours that have stayed with us for millennia. Spices are an integral part of local cuisine, and their healing properties helped Homo Sapiens to spread its wings, while at the same time proving that the human race does not only consume to fulfil its base instincts or to quench hunger.
It's a kind of magic
Let's take a step back. We've strayed a bit too far from our roots. How little do we know about the smells and what goes into finished products? We lead a pre-ground, pre-packaged lifestyle with appealing, easy-to-read labels. No country of origin, story or heart in sight, just a generic, known and unappetising flavour.
You might be asking yourself, why are they slagging everything off? We couldn't be further from that! We all appreciate the enormous comforts modern life can bring. Proof of the pudding is that anyone interested, can read our story online. But we also believe that we don't need to give anything up. Proper use of spice and herbs, can be only compared to a potion maker, brewing up magical concoctions. At least that’s what we tell ourselves sometimes in the kitchen.
Look at our work with a mortar. Doesn’t it look appealing? I'm sure J.K Rowling would have us chant, Cocinus herbialis, while making it.
In the video, we can be seen roasting cumin seeds and grounding them down using our granite mortar. The roasting process extracts and brings out the flavour. By simply grinding them you can achieve a different taste too. Frying it with oil it will spread the seasoning over the entire meal.
Frankly, when we've started using mortar, we kept wondering: Why haven’t we done this sooner? It makes everything taste better and richer. We are creatures of comfort and rituals. The feast starts long before the meal.
You choose a recipe or decide to improvise.
Let's focus on spices; the magic that gives every bite a kick.
It brings a story of our culture, childhood memories or voyages. You enter a domain in which the more you grasp the concept that stands behind every recipe the more connected you feel with what you eat.
So it starts with preparation and if your aim for perfection you should use the scales - literally.
You’ll need good-quality, whole and original spices. You can see the selection of our goods in the pictures.
In our kitchen, we keep bags full of unprocessed spices. Not to brag, but to invite you to try and experiment with them yourself. Let’s look at the mix of spices we’ve grown so accustomed to, yet no one knows of their origin.
When you visit India you will never find such a thing as curry powder. Europeans invented the concept of it. Skipping the whole beauty of mixing, grinding and filling your kitchen full of its smells. Many people are sure that curry powder is nothing more than just a powdered curry. In reality, it is: turmeric, chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger, and pepper. And if anything, this is what we want to enable ourselves and you to try out.
Selection of spices from our kitchen
If you dig a bit further, the properties of some of the spices have health benefits and by using them, not only do you tap into the human capacity to experience flavours, but you might unknowingly be helping your body to thrive.
We love to see the food and our relationship with it as something beneficial and important. We learn our entire lives, and if eating and peppering food with unprocessed spices are beneficial, why not do it a bit more consciously?
To give you an example. If you were in India you could be urged to use more turmeric in your diet. But what does turmeric have to do with your health?
It is scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, for example, helping you to prevent the development of various heart diseases.
Let’s say you are climbing the Himalayas. On your way up in the Indian or Nepali villages, you will find a common dish to be garlic soup. What is the science behind it? Your blood gets thicker as you go up. Interestingly consuming therapeutic doses of garlic can thin your blood preventing you from getting AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), commonly known as altitude sickness. These are but two examples and yet the possibilities and science behind spices seem to be endless.
Knowledge is pow(d)er. to spread its wings, while at the same time proving that the human race does not only consume to fulfil its base instincts or to quench hunger.
Indian cultures use herbs and spices to the advantage of their populations and so do others. We’ve known for thousands of years that some antiseptic plants help when applied to the wound and other gives your stomach a relief when ingested. The list goes on and on!
Chamomile flowers growing on the local hills ready to be picked, or Aloe Vera as our house plants.
In summary, we would love to invite you to try for yourself the magic of spices. Let us help you rediscover the smells and maybe find out how amazing it feels to grind and mix them all up yourself. You can look at it from a couple of different angles. By conscious use, you do yourself a great favour of sickness prevention and to tell you the truth, if you purchase bigger amounts of spices you end up spending much less money on it over time. For domestic use, they will last you a lifetime!
We would love to hear what you think about it all! Please let us know by writing a comment or coming and talking to us in person if you are in the neighbourhood.
There is only as much as one can learn on their own. What else would you like to read about? Do you agree with our opinions? We would love to get inspired by your thoughts and ideas!
¡Hasta luego, amigos!