Markets, Missions, Seasoning

The Salt Shaker

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 was introduced to the more exotic flavors of oregano, thyme, and rosemary. I felt quite accomplished when I made rosemary chicken for the first time.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the huge assault to my senses in moving to Africa when my tastebuds were first surprised with flavors of curry, cumin, and turmeric. Yes, turmeric is actually a spice that has been used to flavor foods long before it was touted as the newest food supplement. As I first learned the ropes of the markets in East Africa, I inevitably would stumble upon what we would call in the US the “spice aisle.” However, instead of spices being stored neatly on shelves in small bottles made of glass or plastic, large sacks full of cinnamon, cardamom, dried peppers, and curries were open on display. As you pass by these stalls, the different smells mix together creating a very distinct fragrance, giving shoppers scented directions to that part of the market.

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 quite a few 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 and need to be replaced regularly. A difficult lesson to learn, and one that I still am working on, is finding the perfect amount in each recipe; tasting as you go (using a new spoon each time, no double-dipping please) is the best way to gauge whether to add more to the mix.


Life would be boring without a bit of seasoning.

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 either cause passers-by to be disinterested, engaged, or repelled.

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 offering different flavors over time. The saltiness created in their conversations, living, and simply being engenders thirst for more in who they come into contact with.

So, as you enter life today, remember to take your salt shaker with you. Someone is bound to say, “Pass me the salt, please.”