So much history in this revisited, rejoined house; striving to bring a fresh breath to every room while honoring the past with its span of joys and sorrows. Claiming/reclaiming my kitchen. I spent two hours digging through the jars & baggies of spices & herbs, combining, tossing, sniffing, sneezing, labeling. When I asked my son to identify the last remaining anonymous & mysterious elements, he repeatedly said, "custom mix." Ah......
Could you identify ground cardamom, unmarked, with only your sense of smell? How about ground coriander? We argued about oregano: apparently one was Mexican oregano, which smells markedly more potent than what I would call traditional oregano. Five versions of chili powder, four incarnations of curry, each with its own particular tang. The beautiful star anise, the rolled-cigar-rusty cinnamon sticks, the perfect symmetry of tiny black mustard seeds.
And then there was even more mystery: Grains of Paradise. Identifiable seed pods: keep? Toss? I made the rule that if we couldn't identify it, it had to go. Toss toss toss. I believe that between my son and me we have enough spices to last at least until the next century, albeit most by that time will have long surrendered their zing.
Spice categorization is good therapy, I think. There's the visual component of varying shades of mostly brown/beige/red-brown, and there's the olfactory component which induces any number of sneezes, and when nothing else succeeds in identification, there's the tongue-test. Three of the four senses ain't bad, as these things go. And now all has been condensed, combined, relabeled, rebagged, cleaned-up and shined. It's full steam ahead in SpiceLand.