I decided that I should make a list of spices that I love and use (a lot).
- Salt. Sea salt, though I’ve learnt that ‘sea salt’ is an empty shell. I have a grinder and apparently the big grains of salt that go in there are actually mined in Italy from mountains. Maybe there used to be some sort of sea there, but it’s more likely that it’s not. But still, I prefer grinding salt over dishes than using a pre-grinded small grained salt from a dispenser. That feels wrong. Probably because it has healthy amounts of iodine in it. Who knows how crazy I will go anytime soon because I lack iodine in my diet?
Salt is my number one, not because I eat very salty, but because I use it in almost every dish. Even when I’m baking cookies. Salt is needed in almost all kinds of food, and I couldn’t live without it.
Sometimes ready bought foods have way too much salt in them. That, I don’t like. I’m not a big salt-eating monster. So when I made a terrible cook-up of some Nigella-cookies I made (Nigella Lawson) and they were salty beyond salty, I died. I threw them out which made me die some more. The thing I did wrong was measure the baking powder I added to the mixture. I added way too much and it all went wrong from there.
- Zongedroogde Tomaat Mix (sun dried tomato mix) from Fair Trade. It contains sun dried tomatoes, black pepper, roasted garlic, red onion, bell pepper (paprika, come on, that’s one hell of a great word!), olives and basil. This is the one herb/spice mix I cannot live without. I put it in/on everything. I would throw it on my pound cakes if I thought the rest of the world would think that made me the most brilliant person ever to have lived (I think the rest of the world would lock me up in a psychiatric hospital, so I don’t actually do it). I use it on all of my soups, my pasta, my pasta sauce, eggs, vegetables. Oh, and most importantly: on my super sandwiches. The day this mix isn’t available anymore, I’ll be so depressed they’ll have to start making it, only for my sake. It’s so stunningly tasty, I just don’t get how other people keep breathing without it.
- Chives. But only freshly cut from the garden (which I don’t have, so I work with dried chives at the moment). I’ve always loved chives (and onion and garlic, but I’ll post about that someday, if I have the courage), and I still like eating it straight from the garden. It’s perfect in almost any dish, but I love it in salads. Oh, what would the world be without chives? (Really, I do need to lecture you on that, because the world would be an intolerable cruel place without any member of the onion family)
- Oregano or Marjoram. They’re virtually the same. This is another herb that I actually put in almost any dish I make. I’m not discriminating here, and it works out just fine. It’s lovely in almost any dish, so why not? And I also really love it fresh. You can even add it to some fresh tea. I think I’d have trouble being without this one, too.
- Black pepper. In a grinder. This is on every dish too. I wouldn’t die without it though. I’d be ok. And another pepper I really love is chili. That’s bound to give your taste buds a kick in the nuts, and every now and then, that’s just the way my taste buds like it. Oh, and bell pepper, I use the powder of red bell peppers in, yes, every dish. I can’t help it, I’m weak, I’m probably just a one-trick pony. So yes, the world wouldn’t be the same without pepper(s), it would be terribly boring!
- Italian mix. This is a mixture of all kinds of herbs and since I should have been born Italian, I put it in almost every dish, too. Yup. Even the Dutch dishes. I spice them up with this. What’s in it? I have no idea, but I’ll check the label: marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme and savory.
- Basil. Oh, my. Yes, basil is inevitable. And yes, that too, goes on practically every dish I make. Either as dried basil, or fresh basil, or pesto. And why not? It’s quite nice with virtually everything, but it’s especially brilliant with tomatoes. Nothing with tomatoes in it, is being served without basil. Not in my kitchen!
- Cinnamon. Ok, that’s not on every dish that I make. Simply because tomatoes with cinnamon are disgusting. But everything with cinnamon in it, is a sheer delight to my sensible taste buds. I love cinnamon cookies, I love apple pie with loads of cinnamon, I love pear with cinnamon. So thanks to the Dutch guys who sailed around the world and brought home this extraordinary spice, I get to have cinnamon and love it until the day I’ll die.
- Thyme. I’m always surprised at how the smallest hint of thyme can change something from ‘nah, not sure’ to ‘OMG, superb!’. It’s magic and I love it!
- Fresh mint. Ok, this, I don’t use in almost all dishes I produce. It’s simply too dominant a flavour to be good in every dish. But the world would not be the same without fresh mint tea. And I really need a garden or just a balcony to grow some of these fantastic herbs!
I do realise that most of these mixes have lots of the herbs that I’ve named separately as well. Sometimes I actually do add both to a dish, but usually just the mix OR the separate herbs.