Thursday, September 15, 2011
A recipe for love – an Arabian night
Is there a genie in those spice jars sitting on your shelf? Could they possess the spice of love? It has long been believed that spices such as saffron and cinnamon are spices of love. Both spices play prominent roles in middle eastern cooking, folk lore and myths.
When I was in Morocco I bought saffron, cinnamon and a spice mix called, Ras el hanout or top of the shop. The smell and the flavor was not at all like anything you find on the grocery store shelf. As I wondered through the open spice market I was amazed at the meager cost and the brilliant colors and smells. Next to the spice cart was a cart of dates, plums, apricots and nuts. Everything was neatly stacked and wonderfully displayed for the shoppers to purchase and turn into the evening meal.
In the Middle East the Arabs use fruits and spices to create sweet and interesting stews. My favorite is the Tagines from Morocco. Saffron and cinnamon play top note to the flavor and the scent. Tender meat and interesting flavors make tagines a work of love.
Saffron, a very expensive spice is thought to bring love and lust into your life. Cinnamon as well is known for its ability to both excite and entice. Top of the shop is a combination of spices that is used to top off a dish giving it a distinct flavor. Top of the shop spice mix is made different by each vendor in Morocco. It is a blend of salt pepper, turmeric, cumin, ginger, paprika, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and white pepper. You’ll find all these spices added to any Moroccan dish.
The stews are made in a tagine (a Moroccan stewing pan). The stews cook for several hours constantly being stirred with love. The word tagine although referred to as the pot, in which the stew is cooked, means a succulent stew. The word succulent means juicy and full of interest. Sounds like love to me.
Spices add flavor and interest to our foods. Spicing up your relationship can enhance love and renew interest. Often times we take for granted the flavors of life. Love is something we seek, find and then abandon in the shuffle of time. Like spices love carefully blended into our life enhances all that we think, say and do. Love adds flavor.
The Arabian Nights are a collection of fables, romances, historic accounts and fairy tales collected from various ethnic backgrounds; mostly Indian and Persian. Probably they were first oral stories that late were written into a Syrian manuscript that is now housed in Paris.
Fairy tales, romance and fables intrigue us because they spice up the ordinary into something hot, warm, tingling and aromatic. Adding interesting spices to your cuisine by trying different ethnic foods will ignite the senses and just might aromatically spark your love life.