Wednesday, June 24, 2009

do I taste cardamom? I think I do

Can you imagine life before the spice trade? Or worse, before salt? I tasted my germade this morning and discovered I had forgotten the optional pinch of salt. Bleck.

There is a fairy tale I love about a father who has three daughters. One day I guess he decides to do some Old Testament-style parenting and asks each of his daughters how much they love him. The first says she loves him as much as her own life. The second says she loves him as much as the whole world. The third says she loves him as fresh meat loves salt. The father feels terribly insulted by this and throws the third daughter out into the street, as you would. The daughter makes her way to a neighboring kingdom and becomes a servant in the palace. Events take place, the king notices the new servant girl's beauty and instead of forcing himself upon her and leaving her destitute and with child, like history would tell you would be the case, falls in love with her and makes her his bride. She invites her father to the wedding feast (after giving the servants very specific instructions as to its preparation); he attends and doesn't recognize her (which makes me wonder why he was so hung up on the meat/salt thing if he doesn't even know what she looks like). They begin the feast, which is terrible. The father comes to realize that the entire meal has been prepared without salt--I'm imagining, given the lack of refrigeration of those times, that the blandness was accompanied by rampant putrefaction and spoilage. He begins to sob in despair. The new queen asks him what has caused him such grief, and he tells her that he once had a daughter who said she loved him as fresh meat loves salt, and he turned her out because he thought she didn't love him, and now he can see that she loved him best of all. Then the queen, instead of jumping up and crying out "In your FACE, Space Coyote!", reveals her identity as his daughter and they are joyfully reconciled. Happily ever after, yada yada yada.

I don't have a wall of spices or anything, and I'll tell you right now that I have no idea what fenugreek tastes like. But we've all seen spices elevate a meal from pedestrian to ethereal. What cumin and paprika do to black beans is witchcraft. I'm including herbs in this--thyme is another valiant soldier in my kitchen--the chicken and dumplings I made last night are enough to make me weak in the knees. And what would a pork shoulder be without rosemary? I don't know, but I bet I wouldn't shove it into my gaping maw by the fistful. I just feel lucky, is all. Moon Pie! What a time to be alive.


tipsybaker said...

That is a good story.
I can't get the word "stabby" out of my head. Where did that come from? I like it!

All8 said...

Love me some Thyme, although Rosemary is quite warm and piney in it's own right. Ginger is probably my favorite spice.

Trying to cut down on salt in my own life, but certainly not love. ;) I try not to consider the putrescence of foods from that time period because, wow what an overwhelming yuck; especially when mixed with the loathsome "musk" of unwashed bodies and teeth. {{{SHUDDER}}}

Sarah said...

Real tender story you've got there. And I think the next time I toss in some spices, I'll be doing it with a little more love and appreciation.

hi, it's me! melissa c said...

I loved this post. You sure have a way with words. I am reading a book called "Peace like a River" by Leif Enger. Your writing reminds me of his.

I'm glad you aren't trying to get published. I have enough to compete with as it is.