It was a perfect Autumn morning earlier today.

Bright, sunny, chilly, an autumn wind but not too strong.
A morning full of promise.
Just like those mornings when you were little and most days were full of promise.
Before you became a grown up and were ground down by responsiblity and disappointment.

Speaking of ground, let's talk about spice shall we?

After taking the dogs out on a gallivant, I realised I still hadn't bought any brown tea for breakfast. The cupboard holds nothing but herbal as far as the eye can see.
So it's back up the street to the local spice market: purveyors of all things aromatic. Except I think they operate on Sri Lankan time. Despite official trading hours printed on the sign, they're still closed.

I amuse myself for a while documenting one of the shop cats who appears deceptively meek and mild soaking up the morning rays nestled into her basket of dried curry leaves surrounded by suitably armour-like glinting stainless steel cookware and bowls of Chinese dates and Star Anise.

In reality she has cahones and guards the stoop of the shop ferociously. Scout is respectfully terrified of her and would rather cross the street than risk walking past on her footpath.

But all this window-gazing is reminding me of the aromatic spices I used for dinner last night; a quick braise of eggplant and sweet potato delicately spiced with ground cumin, freshly grated ginger, honey and lemon and served on a bed of saffron-infused cous cous.

Proper saffron brought back from Spain by a friend. Oh, the aroma from just one or two strands of this! Simple and delicious.

How bland would our lives would be in the West without the discovery of all these ingredients we now take for granted. It's not hard to imagine how colonialism and empires were won and lost over the spice trade and how valuable a commodity they were.

Now all I need to complete the spicy picture is a skein or two of this.

But it's so scarce and desirable a commodity that I think it's up there with saffron and gold on an ounce-by-ounce scale and could usher in a new age of the Spice Wars.

Wishing you a spicy week.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You simply must come round and cook for us. It would be rude of you not to.

7 May 2008 at 4:33 pm  
Blogger Rose Red said...

Oh yes, that spice market wollmeise - definitely up there with gold and saffron on the desirability/rareness stakes.

Love the pictures and story about the spice cat.

7 May 2008 at 4:34 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

Saffron, cumin, ginger, honey, lemon...sounds divine. Autumn is just right for spice. Aren't the eggplants beautiful just now?

Think I know that shop. Near where I used to live. Don't remember the fierce cat, but then it's been a long time since I lived there.

8 May 2008 at 8:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that yarn is indeed spicy and special.
and i'm with alison, you simply must come and cook that dish for me, too. [or perhaps just a dinner party at your place... might have trouble getting to that, tho']

8 May 2008 at 1:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's like $4000 worth of Saffron. ;) Your dinner sounds lovely. I'm more familiar with the yellow bag of instant saffron rice....lol.... my cooking/eating habits are atrocious.

I love the guard cat!

8 May 2008 at 9:50 pm  
Blogger Michele said...

love the photos - especially the bits of red in them.

9 May 2008 at 10:52 am  
Blogger Madge said...

And a spicy week right back atcha.

Hmm. Now I'm hungry for tikka masala.

12 May 2008 at 7:44 am  
Blogger comfies said...

that's an impressive bit of cooking you did...sounds amazing.

12 May 2008 at 11:30 pm  
Blogger shula said...

Just the word 'spice' gives a faraway look.

Love it. There's very little I cook that doesn't have cinnamon in it.

15 May 2008 at 7:54 pm  
Blogger Little Snoring said...

What a dreamy post. I was completely there in the Autumn sun looking through the window and red and spice. Loved it.

17 May 2008 at 10:31 am  

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