The other day, I almost had a kitchen disaster. I was preparing sweet potato pone and couldn’t find any ginger. As I headed to my aunt’s house I realised that maybe it wasn’t as much of a crisis as I was making it. But I can’t recall a day that we ran out of key spices. Mama Green Thumb recently barked a cinnamon tree and if orange peel isn’t drying on a sill, it’s ground and stored in an airtight container. Many Grenadian profess this same love for spices. In fact, here are 5 spices that every Grenadian should have in the kitchen.
Or should I say the Lady in the Red Petticoat. Our very heritage is nestled in its golden pod. The pericarp makes the most fragrant confectioneries and liqueur while the mace or petticoat is used as meat flavouring and a colour enhancer. The familiar crunch of nutmeg shells along Grand Etang’s trails remind you that not all paths were meant to walk bare feet. Then you have the heart. The nut in Nutmeg, the spice in Spice Isle. Freshly grated over a Caribbean rum punch for Grenadian flair and mixed in any cake or baked delight. Nutmeg can be further distilled into an essential oil which treats bacterial infection, soothes arthritis pains and eases you to bed. No wonder it’s called our black gold.
You can’t go to any corner of the globe without someone recognizing cinnamon unless you’re in Antarctica or something. But it’s one of the hardest spices to process from chopping off the limb at the right maturity to barking the tree with hairline precision. The most commercially popular specie is Cassia or Chinese Cinnamon but for a sweeter, wholesome flavour, there is nothing better than Ceylon Cinnamon. (Mango lovers, are you seeing the connection?). Of course on the Spice Isle, that’s the only type we grow and you can be sure to use it every single day. A golden brew for menstraul pains, mulled with sorrel for our Christmas drink or stewed with the latest seasonal fruit. This is the one spice I never run out of.
Brightly coloured blossoms dry into bitter, astringent sticks which can be ground, but are often used whole. Every Grenadian has the distinct memory of skipping around clove heads on a slice of ham or a spoon of rice and peas; only to confidently bite into one anyway. Thank goodness we strain sorrel before drinking or who knows where that stick may go. It’s also an awesome home remedy for aching gums by placing directly on the affected area.
Bayleaf is the hulk of Grenadian spices. It’s a staple in Porridges, Tannia Log and Cocoa Tea. No. Like really. It’s not porridge if the stalk of a bay leaf isn’t sticking out at the surface. And most especially Under the Counter Rum. And when we need to keep pesky weevils out of flour, we stick a couple leaves in there as well.
This spice has its own drink at Christmas time but stars all year round in stews, cakes and tummy teas. Ginger soothes any digestion or inflammatory condition you can think of so always sun dry a couple pieces to keep for emergencies.
Is this your top 5? Do any other spices deserve honourable mention? Let us know in the comments below!