Thursday, June 3, 2021

SEASONINGS ABOARD -- Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Herbs and Spices: Timeless Treasures

 By Cal Orey

You don't have to hit the high seas to get the lowdown on Mediterranean herbs and spices for this summer... 
This is not a memory or a dream. I documented my real-life sea journeys before setting sail. New countries, new cuisines, and exciting herbs and spices were part of the plan. This is one of my journal entries. It is penned in past tense: words from the heart. These are my true feelings about our daring voyage--me, my beloved wife, and chief mate,Dottie--before we embarked on one of many sailing adventures . . .
I made the food on my 46-foot boat ,the sailing vessel Amari. I was very particular about having cinnamon at the ready for an ocean passage squash soup, tarragon for a quick tuna salad lunch, and fennel for that impromptu marinara for pasta. These seasonings area bsolute necessities aboard, whether we were in water in the eastern Caribbean islands or en route to Spain. We were prepping her, a ship to go 3,600 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Mediterranean for five months.
Just ashore in Brewers Bay was a local food vendor who had set up shop just down from the University of the Virgin Islands. Walking downwind of his place, I caught a scent that had me sniffing like a puppy, eager to investigate immediately.
This man had a bright face, a ready smile, and was selling Spicy Jamaican Patties, which are very traditional to these islands. They're basically a fold-over of dough with filling. I know. It sounds a bit boring. But oh my, after biting into one the flavors exploded in my mouth.

Because I'm a science geek, I made it my mission to reverse engineer the patties so I could make something similar back on the boat. But I couldn't dissect it. What I got from this simple patty was a carnival of delectable spices, a love-in of perhaps allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and/or cloves. Not to forget fresh garlic and thyme. I tried to figure out what was in there, but it was just too much. I gave up and looked up at him like he was Gandalf or Dumbledore and pleaded with him to tell me, "How did you do this?"
He laughed and then told me what I was eating wasn't his, but his mastery of spice balance came to him from his mother and hers before him. The spices that define his culture of food and flavor stretch back, he said, to the first days of the Carib. Unwritten recipes of understanding that came to define the flavors of these islands. They became the flavors of their food, family, and lives, woven into the threads of their cultural tapestry.
We will arrive in the Mediterranean to sample the food cultures that spill out of this region, so famous for its food and also its health. Just as in the Caribbean, the rich culture of spices, herbs, and flavors not only defines the residents' food, but also who they are.

After moving through the Azores and landing in Lagos, Portugal, it would be time to explore the flavors of this amazing region. By the time we'd make landfall, I expected to be so grateful to reach port. We'll be keying into the herbs and spices that make the local food magical: the sweet paprika, cinnamon, and bay leaf...

 Other cultures learned about herbs and spices through centuries of experience, building their cultural knowledge over generations. But now through Cal Orey's most recent work, The Healing Powers of Herbs and Spices, you can understand these same simple-yet-potent plants in away that gives you access to them in your home and daily life.  his book provides direct access tot his understanding, so you can get to know the spices, learn the herbs, and understand how to apply them to your health and hearth every day.

--Will Clower, Ph.D.
CEO, Mediterranean Wellness
Author of The Fat Fallacy and The French Don't Diet Plan

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