While I like different seasonings and flavors, my taste probably falls into the boring side of the palate spectrum. Growing up in a Finnish home, we used little more than salt, pepper and onions to season our food. It was only in my adult years that I began to play with a little bit of spice. I began to cook with more exotic flavors like oregano, thyme, and rosemary. I felt quite accomplished when I made rosemary chicken for the first time.
The Spice Aisle
What I wasn’t prepared for when I moved to Africa was the assault to my senses when my tastebuds were first exposed to flavors like curry, cumin, and turmeric. When you wander around in the open food markets of Africa, you will inevitably stumble upon the African version of the “spice aisle.” Spices are not stored in an air conditioned store in vacuum sealed or airtight containers. In Africa’s “spice aisle” you will find spices set out in larger quantities, oftentimes in open sacks. Customers walk by, touching and tasting, looking for the best purchase they can make. Signs aren’t necessary in the market. The different aromas of the spices mix together. This creates a distinct fragrance, giving shoppers scented directions to the “spice aisle.”
I’ve learned many lessons from our spice aisles as I’ve tried and tested some of the mysterious mixes coming from those shops. I have learned that I love spices (although some of them don’t love me, let the reader understand). I love the variety that they afford to our foods. I’ve also learned that spices can lose their flavor over time. A difficult lesson to learn, and one that I still am working on, is finding the perfect amount of spices in each recipe. Tasting as you go is the best way to gauge whether to add more to the mix.
When tasting, use a new spoon each time, no double-dipping please.
Life would be boring without a bit of seasoning.
A Salt Shaker
I carry a salt shaker with me wherever I go, and it’s not the kind I use in the kitchen (Mark 9:50). My words have flavor as do my actions (Col. 4:6), and they have the power to make my life interesting to others. The aroma created by the mixture that my living produces is something that will cause others to be either disinterested or engaged.
It’s much easier to live a bland and unseasoned life without the hassle of learning to mix the spices in our food. While that may be the easier route, it certainly is the most uninteresting one. Life, like food, becomes more engaging and interesting as we live with seasoning in mind. People quickly engage with someone whose life is full of spice. The saltiness created by their conversations, living, and simply being engenders thirst for more.
Remember to take your salt shaker with you when you step out the door. Someone is bound to say, “Pass me the salt, please.”