Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Victoria Beckham's not the only Spice Girl around here

No one ever told me back in eighth grade Home Ec that spices don't get better with age, the way wine does.  So when my mom gifted me with her still full vintage 1960 McCormick and Durkee spice containers when I moved into my first apartment in 1980, I thought I was the favored child.  The spices were already 15 years old and with any luck, I would have them for another 30 years.  If I didn't cook that much, I might even be able to pass them down to my own two Things!

I learned how wrong I was about the spices with my first pot of chili (which tasted like tomato flavored sawdust) and I've been avoiding the spice cabinet ever since.  But this past weekend I ate in a Middle Eastern restaurant and in the four days since, I have become obsessed with making Chicken Tagine - at home.  It's a very spicy dish and I had most of the ingredients at home - except for 21st century spices.

So off to the supermarket for coriander and tumeric and saffron (a "pinch") and cumin.  Which are all crazily expensive and will probably depreciate in taste and value as the previous crop of spices did.

No matter.  By the time I had paid for the spices, I didn't have any money left for the chicken.  So I think the kids' inheritance is safe.


  1. Oh, you are funny! I confess, I have some pretty old spices in my spice rack, too!

  2. Have concluded that with Indian food it's always a better bargain to eat out. Let the experts do the work with their wonderful spices.

  3. This is funny and charming.

    I once dealt with a moth infestation that ruined my spices. So I phoned the public relations department of the company that provided moth eggs with their flour and I was rewarded with an array of spices. I tried saffron for the first time.


  4. OMG I have spices older than my.....well old. I should probably do inventory. But so far I haven't noticed the sawdust taste, so maybe I'm good for another few years. Yea, that's it.

  5. Do you have a tagine pot? I started to buy one on Amazon but haven't met anyone who's used one yet. It looks easy enough. My mom's spices were probably 40 years old. Yet I can't give them up, even if I don't use them - they're in the cutest spice rack!