Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Cinnamon and spice, and everything nice
By Pepper Reece, from the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz
GUILTY AS CINNAMON, second in the series, debuts December 1---available for pre-order now!
Cinnamon is a spice for all seasons. Before I bought the Spice Shop, in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, I thought “cinnamon, fall.” Apple pie, spiced cider, pumpkin pie and a dash of cinnamon on top of a latte or Mexican spiced coffee. But it is SO much more than that.
One reason I adore cinnamon is that it’s a spice you can build on. It’s versatile, and international, creating different flavors depending on what you put it with.
And I should say, “spice” refers to a dried plant part—a bud, bark, root, or seeds. Herb, on the other hand, means a fresh or dried leaf.
Combine cinnamon with allspice, nutmeg, and cloves, and to the North American nose, you’ve just spiced a good part of the Thanksgiving table. Add cinnamon to cocoa for a South American touch. Indian cooks consider it a sweet spice that balances out hotter and more pungent flavors. You’ll find cinnamon in the classic curry, and in garam masala. Combine orange, thyme, vanilla, and cinnamon for a crême brulée that would make a Frenchman swoon.
Spice drove the Age of Exploration—and many of the colonial wars that followed. As with many of the best-known spices, its early uses were not culinary. An ancient token of friendship, cinnamon scented Hebrew anointing oils. In the first century A.D., Pliny the Elder reported that Arabs fooled their Mediterranean neighbors into believing that cassia, cinnamon, and other spices came from deep in Africa, to keep the trade to themselves—and keep prices high. In early Rome, cinnamon and other spices were burned on funeral pyres to symbolize the triumph of life over death—and disguise the smell of burning flesh. Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year’s worth of the stuff on his wife’s funeral pyre—the wife who died after he kicked her.
But don’t let that leave a bad taste in your mouth. Come on in, and taste a few samples. We love making recipe suggestions. And if you come in on the right day, you might get to taste cookies, brownies, nuts, and brittle with dash of my favorite spice.
What’s your favorite use for cinnamon?
Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…
From the cover of GUILTY AS CINNAMON ...
Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.
Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili—a spice Pepper carries in her shop.
Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening—before someone else gets burned…
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.
Connect with her on her website or on Facebook.