Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spices Gone Wild

One great thing to take home from Morocco for souvenir (and personal use) is spices. The spices are usually sold at open markets in open baskets and bins... usually piled up appealingly, as illustrated below.

Some info from a website called gapadventures: There is something called Ras al-hanut, or ‘best of the shop’ – a complex spice blend used in many Moroccan dishes. It’s subtly curry-like with a spicy yet floral fragrance and robust but not overpowering flavour. Spice shops often employ experts who create the mixture using their own secret recipe and up to twenty-seven different spices. The tough part is in getting the proportions right, as spices can vary in intensity and flavour depending on how old they are or where they came from. Putting in a pinch of this and a teaspoon of that just doesn’t give you world-class results. Side note: I was too lazy to dig through my pictures, so I plagiarized these from random websites.

As you can imagine, things bought from an open market in a third world country are sometimes risky. I've found my share of stowaways in pasta and spices... but never anything quite like what is described here in two emails from the SistersT... they explain it in general hilarity, as always.

September 24, 2007 -- email from FrancesM.
that huge bag of spices we brought back with us from morocco... yeah, they hatched last week. thousands of tiny black cock-roach looking bugs, that evidentlycan't live in our atmosphere, because they died right away. so strange. they straight up, war-of-the-worlds killed over. how's life in casa treating you? i hope you've been well, and make sure you boil everything before eating it!!

September 27, 2007 -- email from T.Jo
I dunno if Frances M mentioned it, but she brought back some tahjin spices in the spring and guess what? They hatched out!!! She warned me this weekend about them basically taking over one area of her kitchen and I happily rooted around until I found those spices. As luck would have it, my bugs were mostly dead--but maybe 20 or so were alive still and slowly crawling around--perfectly sealed in a Glad plastic bag. I felt that the Glad company really lived up to its name, just seeing all those bugs perfectly sealed up in there, unable to invade my sanity and sense of cleanliness. I have a feeling actually, that those were some kind of weevils. It was a bit of a weevil holocaust. There were hundreds who didn't make it (depending on how you define make it--they hatched all right, just didn't live very long, best I can tell--very glad I skipped the larvae stage!!!).

Just more protein, that's what I say.


Anonymous said...

This information of course is for those of us who have had these famous spices in the dark corners of our cabinets unaware of the activity going on. Thank you? Or could it be that the sisters Titsworth just got REAL LUCKY!! I'll let you know.


frances said...

yeah, mom and darlene (who were the other unlucky recipients) haven't had the courage to go dig theirs out, yet. luckily we hadn't yet distributed the souvenirs to mark's family. that probably wouldn't be the best way for me to get on their good side. :)

Anonymous said...

Eeewwww! I used all mine already. Hopefully bugs won't start exploding out of me. Love the postings showing your beautiful new abode, especially since Denise hasn't come out of her blog-slacking yet.


savejina said...

the SisterT's are so funny.
and brave.

Anonymous said...

I threw the stuff away...although I don't think it was from the same batch as frances refers to. i just immediately went to the kitchen and threw it away. no sign of bugs, but it was clumped together in a way that even j.t. declared to be gross. makes for a funny story! glad it wasn't me though!!


Tammitopia said...

I am late coming to this post, but how funny that you included excerpts of our emails! I feel almost like they're placed into a little scrapbook now, which makes me happy.

Your page is looking great, btw! It makes me wish I'd kept my Tammitopia blog going. But I'm not in Morocco so I don't have such interesting things to say and I'm not organized enough to share pictures on a blog. :)