I’m a practical cook by necessity. I don’t love cooking, but I do love fresh, homemade, relatively healthy food. Naturally, now and then I get utterly sick of cooking and need either a break or a new source of inspiration. So when my friend Marianne suggested a trip to Penzeys Spices in Sarasota, FL, I jumped at the chance. Our excuse, if one was needed, was the need to buy a wedding gift for the daughter of a mutual friend.
Marianne was familiar with Penzeys through her in-laws, but she hadn’t been to the store herself. We took our time strolling through the displays of everything from adobo seasoning to zatar (“a Middle-Eastern tabletop blend”). Penzeys had vanilla beans, and freeze dried shallots, and special herb blends for every possible cuisine you could name. Each one had a jar for sniffing and we sniffed. We made two passes through the store, first to choose spices for a gift box for Amanda, then to choose spices for ourselves. I saw many that I wanted to try, but I limited myself to five, including Sicilian Salad Seasoning, Ruth Ann’s Muskego Ave. Chicken and Fish Seasoning, and minced ginger. With my purchase, they gave me a slim book filled with product information and recipes. I’m already making a list of more items I want to try.
Penzeys (no affiliation) might have a store near you. According to the list in their book, they have 66 stores in 28 states, as well as mail/online ordering.
Sometimes a field trip is all about exploring, sometimes it’s a treat, and sometimes I look for inspiration to send me on toward my goals. It’s a lot to ask of a few spices, but I hope they’ll help change cooking from drudgery back into a simple pleasure.
Do you need inspiration? Where could you find some?