The Spice of Life

I’m returning to work this month after a weeklong staycation, and I’ve spent a ton of time inside recently. From deep cleaning my washing machine and organizing closets/drawers to snuggling by the fire, I certainly made the most of my time off.

I also engaged in a fair amount of culinary therapy—which differs from my day-to-day job in that I’m cooking solely for myself. It’s such a rarity that I’m not “working” when I’m in the kitchen, that at first it felt almost unnatural. But after paging through some forgotten cooking magazines (which I then recycled, of course!) and flipping through old vacation pictures, I started plugging into my own appetite and cravings. I rediscovered flavors and foods I haven’t enjoyed in years, as well as new tastes I might not have tried while “on the clock.”

One day, while cleaning out my spice cabinet, I came across more than a few bottles of lesser-used but once-treasured seasonings. I’ve always loved spicy food, (by which I mean food with lots of spice, not peppery-hot dishes). Turmeric, cloves, cumin, coriander, cardamom, sumac and fennel were each purchased for a reason before being buried far back on my shelves. So, I set about to use them up. What came about was some of the most satisfying and healing food I’ve made and enjoyed in quite a long time—Lebanese-style chicken wings, a Persian rice dish called tahdig, a Yemeni hot sauce called skhug and something altogether mixed up that I didn’t know what to call other than Mediterranean nachos. (Find the recipe at
My kitchen smelled intoxicating.

Rachael Perron is the culinary and brand director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications. Find more at