Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Colour Collaborative: December: Spice

Image via Pixabay
Red, gold and green, the colours of Christmas and the colours of spice.  The warmth of their colours and flavours are perfect for these chill days.  Whilst the fresh, clean tastes of spring and summer happily stand alone, in winter we look for a little extra, the complex unmatchable flavours and aromas of spices.  The hot colours of orange, yellow and red are dominant, the warmth and depth of spiced food is perfect for cold dark days.

Image via Pixabay
These precious compounds have been revered for five thousand years or more, causing wars, founding trade routes and shaping history.  Coriander, fennel, juniper and cumin were found in the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs.  Black pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cloves were around in the Middle Ages.  The unique flavours were so treasured that spices were worth vast sums of money.  Pepper and other spices have been used as currency, and nutmeg, which was for a while used to prevent plague, has at times been worth more than its weight in gold.

Image via Pixabay
When I was twenty-one I spent a while cycling around Morocco.  The parts I enjoyed most were the souks, where everything was for sale, from the delicious Moroccan bread that I've never been able to replicate since, to little silver teapots for mint tea, and richly coloured carpets.  But the most amazing displays were on the many spice stalls.

Image via Pixabay
Powders of every shade of orange, yellow and red piled high in wide bowls.  It makes me think that we under-utilise spices here, buying them in tiny glass jars and little glassine bags.  When I see the drama and colour of a North African spice stall I wonder if I might be missing something.   The health benefits of spices are only now starting to be documented, and I'm convinced that many of them have considerable positive effects on human health.  I often read that it's good to eat a rainbow of foods, somehow in the vivid colours there is magic.  And where better to find these deep, saturated colours than in spices.  This Christmas I'll be using more spices and different spices, and it's something I'll try to keep up in the New Year too.  I could use a little ancient magic.

Image via Pixabay
To visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below:

               Annie at Annie Cholewa                            Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

               Sandra at Cherry Heart                               Jennifer at Thistlebear

What is The Colour Collaborative?

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

25 comments:

  1. Wow, I loved the history of spices you shared and I fell in love with those striped bags full of spices. I just read an article about how honey and cinnamon can cure almost all illnesses and conditions.. so each morning I've had a toasted English muffin with peanut butter, honey and cinnamon. Bring on the spices! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉
    *M*E*R*R*Y* *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*!*
    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉

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  2. Such fabulous, rich colours. Markets in other countries always seem so much more appealing than those here, it's the colours which lure you in.

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  3. The bags for storing the spices are as gorgeous as the spices themselves. Wouldn't the cloth make beautiful deckchair covers?? I have never visited Morroco but hopefully one day will! Have a lovely weekend. x

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  4. What a wonderful and colorful post, a pleasant gift for the eye, thanks!!
    I love spices, their colours and scents are almost magical.

    Have a nice day!!

    Lluisa xx

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  5. Glorious colours. I use turmeric a lot in cooking- it is a fantastic anti-inflammatory. x

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  6. such colors! i know they would add life to my cooking, too....a really good new years resolution!

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  7. I would love to visit Morocco someday. I love the idea of spices being sold openly and in such great quantity in the markets. I love to cook with spices, but I'm not especially adventurous. I think I worry about the cost, more than anything, but that's probably foolish. You only live once, as they say. Great post, I enjoyed reading about your recollections.

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  8. Beautiful photos of all the spices! I have seen stalls with spices in South Korea, and they are so vivid - almost alive with colour. As for cycling around Morocco, you were so fortunate to have that experience. Those kinds of adventures stay with us for our whole lives.

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  9. Magical spices ... that is a wonderful thought! Which will you be using I wonder. I have saffron here - so expensive that I can only justify a small pack - and I have been researching saffron bun recipes.

    Referencing something you said elsewhere, not a lemon in sight!

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  10. Fab post CJ, with some great photos. I'd love to see a proper spice stall like those you described. We've started buying spices by the bag in the "Foreign Foods" aisle in the supermarket - not as authentic as a souk, but a lot cheaper than those little glass jars! x

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  11. Mmmmmmmmmm...it must SMELL WONDERFUL at the market. Those colors and smells (even imagined) make me hungry.

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  12. So cool that you biked around Morocco friend! How fun is that! And when looking closely at spices all the words you used to describe them suits their powers so wonderfully! A very Merry weekend to you Cj!!! Nicole xo

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  13. Bicycling around Morocco?! That sounds like a wonderful dream! I often fantasize about visiting these places. All those colors and different flavors are so intriguing. I could use some of that ancient magic, too:) Hope your day is full of wonder and happiness, CJ!

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  14. I hope that your Christmas spices work wonderful for you this Christmas and make it a lovely spicy and happy affair. Your memories of Morocco are wonderful too! Happy Christmas! xx

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  15. What a lovely post, those colours are so vibrant. I think as a nation we do underutilise spices. Chillies are excellent for warding off colds xx

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  16. Fun and warm post. Lovely colors. I liked imagining you cycling around Moroccan markets!

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  17. Those photos put me right back in Marrakesh; such breathtaking colours, I can almost smell those spices now. Cycling round Morocco sounds wonderful and such a fantastic adventure to be able to look back on. Wishing you a magical, spice-filled Christmas and New Year. x

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  18. A really interesting post CJ - those pictures are awesome - so rich and fun to look at. I just read an article stating that just a teaspoon of cinnamon has as many antioxidants as a much larger amount of blueberries, which are known to be one of the richest sources of antioxidants. I was happy to hear that because I put cinnamon (and nutmeg) in almost all of my baked goods, my homemade maple lattes and chai teas, and we eat a lot of squash soups that call for cinnamon and nutmeg. Spicing things up is good!

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  19. A colourful, and imaginative, post. Flighty xx

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  20. I do like cardamom - the colour of the pods, the fragrance, the fact that it's used in both Middle Eastern and Nordic cooking (must try making cardamom buns sometime).
    I've often wondered how they get those amazing, perfectly conical piles of spices you see in souks. Not that I've ever been to one but your post was evocative enough to transport me there...Sarah x

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  21. We both thought of the same sort of picture - love it! I guess it was lucky we didn't pick the same one ;) Lovely post as always and sorry I'm so late to get around to commenting this time! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas though :)

    S x

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  22. Really interesting CJ and great choice of photos, such amazing colours. I know I don't use spices enough in my cooking, even though I love the flavours. I tend to just stick to the same few, even though I have many packets of different ones. Part of it is probably needing more confidence and knowledge of the best flavour combinations. I hardly ever follow recipes, just making it up but I think I need to find a few good recipes with a variety of spice combinations to get some confidence (actually, Shaheen's blog 'A seasonal veg table - Allotment 2 Kitchen' is great for ideas). Definitely something to aspire to next year.

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  23. Wow I've never seen spices like that. Here I see them just like in little shaker containers but never loose! That's really awesome

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