HOT OR SPICY?

BLAND AND SPICY


When I lived in Israel, there were two types of hot sauce on every table: the red one, which was very hot, and the green one which could easily remove your infected tonsils. I was not a big fan of either one, but my son became quite the aficionado of hot sauces, although I think in the many years since, he has modified his position. Age does that to you.

Israel had more than hot spices, too. They had stuff called “Z’atar” which is a combination of various spices that is good on chicken, fish, eggs … and hot, fresh bread. Mmm.

When I got back to Boston, I was happy to discover that people still ate spicy food. I didn’t need it to be hot enough to launch the fire department, but a little spice perks up an otherwise dull bit of cooking. Especially chicken. I’m pretty sure the point of chicken is to have various things done to it to make it worth the effort of chewing it.

Boston was good in the tasty and spicy department, but when we moved out west to Uxbridge, we discovered that herbs and spices we regarded as standard were considered quite … exotic. Spices like garlic. Pepper. Paprika. Chili. Even standards like oregano and thyme were regarded with suspicion. To say that local cooking is bland doesn’t come close to the reality.

I hit the spice department on Amazon, plus the “exotic” aisle of the supermarket. Between the two, I managed to find a variety of spices and sauces that keep meals from becoming too dull to eat. Although super hot food may disagree with aging intestinal tracts, bland foods can make you feel that eating isn’t worth all the effort required to chew it, much less complete the entire digestive process. I’m personally of the opinion that the loss of appetite in older people is sheer boredom. Why eat? Why bother?

We don’t eat out much. This is financial, of course, but if there were places worth the prices, we’d fit in a nice meal here and there. It hardly seems worth the effort these days. Even getting into the car to go somewhere, much less pay them for the privilege? Nah. There were a few decent places locally when we got here, but all of them closed within a year or two. Now, there’s a not-too-bad Asian place in Slatersville (Rhode Island) and a good Japanese restaurant in Milford. Otherwise, you can get a good burger down the road at Hanna’s … and then there’s the Uxbridge version of pizza. I prefer the frozen stuff from the grocery.

Sad, I know.

So the first thing we do when we are somewhere else — anywhere else, local or distant — is check out the eateries. Find out what everyone says is good food. Sometimes, the local diner has the best food in the region.

And I buy spices. Everywhere. It keeps the kitchen from becoming too boring to bother.

33 thoughts on “HOT OR SPICY?

  1. In my high school in London we had two kitchens, one was kosher and the other the rest (like me) as half of the school was jewish, but I never really got the hang of it. there was something about meat and milk products not being served together. It is interesting to see which spices are the most popular in other countries. Even the arabian countries differ in their spices and the further south you go in India the hotter it gets (spicewise).

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    • Apparently, the hotter the weather, the hotter the food. All the middle eastern countries serve spicy and sometimes REALLY hot food, and once you get into the southern part of the U.S. — and the west, too — the food gets hotter until you get to Mexico where it’s burning time. I also like the various combinations of spice. It makes food interesting. I get pretty bored with food pretty fast — and so does Garry. Our granddaughter, raised here, is serious about bland!

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      • Marilyn, your brother Matthew will forever be remembered as the Czar of everything spicy. I fondly recall him making his famous Bloody Mary’s and smiling broadly as the tears rolled down my face and I gasped for breath.

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  2. I can’t eat spicy- it overpowers whatever I am eating so I can’t enjoy it. Spices are wonderful at flavoring food instead of using salt- and can bring something ordinary and boring to a new level of taste I think

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    • Once you get used to spice in your food, it’s hard to go back to bland. I used to carry a bottle of hot sauce in my bag in case I had to eat “out.” I just order a really BIG bag of Za’atar because I went through the 2 ounces in a nanosecond. I can keep the small bottle so I can fill it up from the bigger bag. Now all I need is some of that hot bread they used to bake at Damascus gate.

      The shroug is the hot green stuff, right? The Moroccans make it too, I think. My son used to eat it by the spoonful. I stuck with the red sauce which I thought was entirely hot enough πŸ˜€

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    • Probably not as much as you might think. I use a lot of chili powder, but it’s pretty mild stuff. This way, I can get the flavor without my mouth going up in flames. the hot sauces are stronger, but I’m a lightweight user. Once in a while, I get carried away and use too much — an oops moment — but mostly, I like spiciness rather than burning hotness. Now, my BROTHER … he was totally into the whole hot sauce experience. He didn’t drink, but he had a wet bar for hot sauce.

      I like a little spiciness, but I prefer to skip the whole fire brigade experience. That particular chili powder is really NOT hot. You can use a lot of it before you get even a mild burn. If you want burn, the liquid Arizona Cowboy sauce will do it.

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