Herbs and spices are the flavor building blocks for all foods. Sure, you can grill a steak, but without at least a little salt and pepper, it’s probably not going to be delicious. The simplest way to learn about herbs and spices is to become familiar with them. Knowing how to identify them, and how they smell is a good first step.
Go to a greenhouse in May and the most common herbs should be available for purchase. Gently rub the leaves and then smell your fingertips. The aroma you are smelling is what will be flavoring your food.
If you’re at a friend’s house while they are cooking, ask them what herbs and spices they are using. They’ll probably be happy to let you taste and smell the thyme, rosemary, basil or oregano they’re using. With any luck, they might be willing to explain why they’re using a specific herb or spice, how it enhances the meal they’re preparing.
There are some herbs and spices that are staples in the kitchen. Thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, bay leaf, cumin, chili powder and pepper are just a few of the most common ones found in a cook’s kitchen. I will be writing a post once a week about one herb or spice – what it is, where to find it, and how to use it.