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Keep it in the Family

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I jury rig a lot of my dinners. I'm broke and I'm not the greatest cook that ever lived. To make this bearable, I keep a lot of spices and herbs around. I think of spices as families, or circles of spices that get along well together. Sometimes I think in the nationality of the dish. English food does well will sage, rosemary, and thyme. Italian food has a lot of garlic, savory, oregano, and marjoram. Some overlap, like basil. It's pretty easy to figure out what nationality a dish is.

The other circles or families are meats. I almost never make chicken without cumin. Pork, if you can have it (unlike me), is great with cloves. Like making a perfume, you can use those as your bass notes. (Bass as in low, not as in fishies.) If you ever need to know what to put with it, smell your dish, then grab a spice and smell it. If they smell good together, go for it. That's how you build it up. If you like sweet, cloves, cinnamon, all spice, ginger, and nutmeg all go well together. Spicy, you can use chili pepper, coriander, paprika, and ground red pepper.

If you're trying to get a feel for spice families, look up a bunch of similar dishes. A pattern will soon emerge, and you'll be faking it like a hooker trying for a big tip.

That's it, kids. Be good, or don't get caught.
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