Have you taken a look at the spices in your cabinet lately? A really good look? A recent conversation with my husband made me realize that it was time to weed through those carefully alphabetized jars.
J and I were reminiscing about a wonderful couscous dish we made years ago; it was full of Middle Eastern spices and flavors. We got the recipe from a friend but had put off making it for about six months because it called for cardamom; on our student budgets we couldn’t afford it. When I finally did bite the bullet and purchase the cardamom, the resulting dish was worth the investment.
What’s the key phrase in that previous paragraph? It’s “student budgets,” which we last saw in 1993. Yes, that nineteen-year-old Durkee jar has moved with us to several apartments and four houses, from Cambridge to Syracuse to Charlotte to Connecticut and back to the Boston area. That’s a lot of miles on an elderly jar!
It even has the original price sticker ($6.49!) from Star Market in Cambridge — for those of you familiar with the area, we purchased this back when groceries were sent via an underground conveyer to a drive-up hut in the middle of the parking lot. I’m not sure when that Star was converted to a Shaw’s (and the steps re-graded and the hut dismantled), but this little jar is a piece of history.
And history it is.
With the help of the McCormick “How Old Are Your Spices” site, I’ve culled many a jar from the cabinet. When I plugged in the product code from this tin of pepper (in my defense, we use freshly ground pepper for seasoning, and rarely make recipes that call for pepper as an ingredient), I got the following message:
You threw out your boy band CDs. Throw out your old spices.
This spice was made on 11/6/1998
I dare you to investigate the spices in your cabinet — what’s the oldest you’ll find?!
For other kitchen stories – recipes, cookbook reviews, discussion of food-themed movies, etc., turn to Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking.