• Awaiting Samosas
  • CultureFoodJournalSamosaSpices

Awaiting Samosas

Samosa Making, New Delhi, India, originally uploaded by pavangupta.

As I was waiting for my samosas to be fried at the nearby Indian restaurant last night, I sat down for a moment of silence and anticipation. The sweet and savoury aromatic steam of spices and herbs frying in ghee filled the space and convinced me to stop my daily worries for a moment, and just sit down and indulge in the pleasure of anticipation.

I couldn't help but wonder about the connection between fragrance and food. Without the enormous variety of aromas of vegetables, fruit, spices, herbs and so on - food would be limited to tastes (there are only 5 of these), texture and colour.

There was both of the familiar and the mysterious in the aromas of curries simmering in that kitchen: the boldness of cumin, the melismas of cardamom, garlic and onion changing colours and flavours in the hot fat... I felt instantly at home even though there was a lot of the unfamiliar too: a rich, intriguing combination of coconut milk, ghee, foreign homemade cheeses, pastries which I never tried to make and the tandoori oven mulling over its current victim.

I sat there, forgetting that I've come to eat, not to smell, and wondered about the long tradition of spice uses in so many different places, and how the same spices have been used in different ways in different cultures and cuisine. For instance: cardamom is used mostly to spice-up the dark coffees and the syrupy-sweet baclavas in Arabia, while being a staple in almost any "garam masala" in India. Or basil, with its refreshing, rustic aroma, paired with tomatoes and pastas in Italy and also thrown into the refreshing and creamy Thai curries. Or ginger - the gingerbread's favourite companion in Europe and North America, while used mostly fresh in stir fries in Asia... And so on and on the list goes...

In mankind's search for a better life, the spice caravans have created a connection between the people of the earth, making them silently connected by their passion for finding flavour in their life...

  • CultureFoodJournalSamosaSpices
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