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These are the Best Spices and Seasonings That Will Constantly Be in the Center of Attention

Updated on September 2, 2015
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Whether you’re a fan of exotic food, therefore the spices used there that are so characteristic or you love a more traditional food, it makes no difference because there are multiple choices when it comes to cooking.

“The sky is the limit” the saying goes, and that means you can use whatever spices you want in your food. Only the mood will set the tone and that’s the beautiful part with the spices and seasonings, you can mix them however you feel like and every time you’ll get a different result in taste. And there are certain types that will always be used and popular, no matter where you come from.

Now let’s see in a more detailed manner why they are so useful and always in the center of attention in any situation while doing ‘your thing’ in the kitchen.

  • Salt gives a specific and much needed taste to any kind of food and it comes under many shapes and sizes. The one used by most people is the table salt that contains iodine for the prevention of the thyroid disease. Then there’s the kosher salt and the sea salt that many chefs prefer, because they’re additive-free, are full of minerals and have a more subtle flavor without over salting. There is a specific type of salt for all needs, like for instance salt for finishing, for pickling and for ice cream (the rock salt).

Fact: Salt was used by the noble people in China as a suicide method; back then it was very precious and expensive and because of their social status, it seems they had to die accordingly. But don’t worry, it takes more than 1 gr. of salt/kg of weight to die so no one's in any real danger from a few grams consumed each day.

  • Pepper is the loyal partner of salt. The black pepper represents the most traded spice in the world and it is available in three different colors, each giving the spice a certain flavor. From the black pepper, which has the strongest taste and spiciness, to the green pepper and white pepper that are a lot milder, the production of pepper is growing each year. According to the International Pepper Community, in 2014 there were produced 336,000 MT (metric tons) of black and white pepper so we can actually see how much in demand this spice is.
  • The garlic pepper is a delicious variety of the black pepper. It has equal proportions of ground black pepper and dehydrated garlic and it’s almost like my best friend. I put it in sauces and I put it on top of everything, from eggs and baked potatoes to a slice of buttered bread. It’s fantastic and I encourage everyone to try spicing up their dishes with it.

Fact: It is said that in the Middle Ages, pepper’s value was more than the weight in gold and it was used as a legal currency.

  • The chili powder is usually made out of dried red peppers or cayenne peppers but can be made from other varieties as well, and it’s a spice that ads a lot of flavor and piquancy to the food. It’s used in all the major cuisines out there. Being so simple to use makes the chili powder a very useful spice when you want variety in your menu.
  • The whole chili peppers are incredibly hot and spicy and they are harder to be found fresh in areas where they don’t grow naturally, but the dried ones that can be found everywhere, are just as good of course. They can make for a great ingredient in pasta sauces, and curry dishes among others.

Fact: Because of the extreme sensations of fear and pain without the actual body harm the chilies provide, they were often used by the Japanese samurai as part of a ritual meal before any battle to reduce the fear they would feel.

  • Sweet and hot Hungarian paprika. These two varieties are the most flavorful and colorful spices from the red family of peppers. They’re made from the air-dried pods from many types of chili peppers and it seems they're on the fourth place from the most consumed spices in the world. The taste of paprika, no matter the region it comes from is somewhere between sweet and hot and it can successfully be used in any type of food you’d cook, for flavor or color.

Fact: This spice has over 200 years of history in Hungary and it has become their National spice.

  • Fresh garlic cloves and onions are also mandatory in a kitchen. Because they’re often needed in almost all dishes, either one or both at a time, they can give an incredible aroma to stews, sauces or roasts. They are mostly used as finely chopped or sautéed before adding the rest of the ingredients in the pan and there’s no point in me describing the incredible smell you get when you sauté them.

Facts: As you already know how difficult it is to get rid of the garlic smell from the fingers, you can do that now by rubbing a stainless steel object on them under cold water. And to prevent the stinginess of the onion on your eyes you should splash some white vinegar on the board you’re about to cut it or chew some gum.

  • Dried oregano is an incredible spice to be added to Italian dishes like pasta and pizza but it’s also great when added to baked potatoes and bruschetta. I cook a lot of pasta, home-made pizza and baked potatoes so I know it’s extremely useful to have a jar of oregano on the shelf.

Fact: Oregano gets its name from Ancient Greek and it means “Joy of the Mountain”. In that time it was also believed that one could dream of his or her spouse after being anointed with oregano.

  • Curry is indeed a very popular name in the worldwide cuisine, especially in the Indian one – it’s their trade mark. Coming from the Indian subcontinent and Asian continent, it spread throughout Europe from the British people. But its taste still continues to puzzle me to this day. It’s a mix of spices that relies a lot on turmeric, the one responsible for curry’s yellow color. Its taste I can only say it’s curry-like. There’s nothing else I’ve tasted like it before so this fact makes it unique and exotic. I have it and use it with my omelets in general but it works great with meat, rice, Naan bread and vegetables too.

Fact: London hosts more curry houses than India itself and there are two towns in the UK called North Curry and West Curry, one in Somerset and the other in Cornwall.

  • Cinnamon is universally used. It can give flavor and spiciness where needed in many drinks like tea or coffee, sweets and salty foods. It’s great for pies and I mostly use it for a yummy cappuccino.

Fact: Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree that’s a close relative of the bay laurel.

Aside from their many uses in the kitchen, these spices they all have medicinal benefits and they have been used with such purpose even from ancient times and with good results too.

The world of spices is vast and I’ve barely scratched its surface with these few herbs & spices but the best part is that I will keep experimenting and finding new powdered (or not) flavors that will eventually satisfy my curiosity.

If you use other interesting spices or condiments in your kitchen then please share it with me, ‘cause I sure love to find out more about them.

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