Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Four products photo courtesy Spice Lab
The Summer Fancy Food Show that usually takes place every June in New York City, obviously did not take place this year. I have been attending the show since 2000, because I get the chance to discover new or better ingredients from food producers and importers, as well as getting to meet exceptional food professionals, both chefs and suppliers.
Thankfully, a few companies have offered to send tasting samples of their products to our office, and I’ve been cooking up a storm.
Spice Lab is one of those companies. They provided 4 containers (shakers) of their “Fiesta of Flavors” their line of spices for Mexican dishes, mostly used while grilling or to spice-up guacamole. So, I grilled fajitas, assembled tacos, made guacamole etc., spicing them with the contents of these containers, and Barbara and I enjoyed very much the results of my labors.
Spice Lab shows a number of spice blends in their web site, some from Europe, others from the Far East, and a single Moroccan Ras-el-Hanout; but there are numerous other blends from North Africa, the Near East, the Middle East etc. that I’m fond of, that are not represented.
Looking at the ingredient lists on the Mexican spice containers’ back labels, I realized that these products can be enhanced by adding a few more ingredients, to accommodate different cuisines, other than just of Mexico.
For example, the list of ingredients of the Taco Seasoning container indicates to me that by adding powdered allspice, cardamom and fenugreek, I could create “Épice Berber” (Berber Spice) a lovely spicy blend used in North Africa to flavor cooked vegetable dishes and/or lentil/legume dishes as part of a vegetable-centric diet. I keep small containers of many individual spices in my larder, so it was very easy to create a new blend and cook a great-tasting vegetable side dish to be eaten over couscous.
I also used a small amount of the contents of the Guacamole Seasoning, adding it to a blend of lemon and lime juice to spice-up a South American style shrimp ceviche.
In Chile and Peru, “Leche de Tigre”, the citrusy spicy marinade from ceviche, is considered a great remedy for hangovers. Young Santiago residents congregate at 4’oclock in the morning at the Mercado Central’s fish stalls to eat ceviche following a night of imbibing. I’m talking from personal experience… downing a large number of Pisco Sour cocktails or Chicha during the evening, will give you a wicked hangover and a visit to the Mercado Central stalls always saved the day, especially when you have to work the day following!
Another use for these blends was to sprinkle 3 pinches or, depending on the number of eggs, up to 1/2 a teaspoonful over scrambled eggs or omelets. I tried the Fajita Seasoning at breakfast and the result was scrumptious.
So, good and well thought blends of ingredients and a little ingenuity will brighten up a number of dishes from different parts of the world, to make your meals delectable. Thank you Spice Lab for making it easy to create some great meals during the Covid-19 stay-at-home emergency.
For more information see: www.spices.com
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