Title

Ital (eye'-tal): of or from the earth; vital; life giving; natural.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Spice of Life

Mexican food is hands down my most favorite cuisine. I could stuff myself silly with black beans, tortillas, guacamole, jalapenos and tomatoes. In fact when I was pregnant with Shine, I couldn't get enough of anything made with black beans. (Perhaps I over did it as now he absolutely refuses them!) And Baby Q says bring on the tomatoes! Lucky for me, both babes enjoyed spice in utero so I did not (do not) have to back down from the hot peppers!

During my college years, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to live in Chiapas, Mexico. On my way to and from school, I had to pass by the farm market where they sold avocados by the buckets! And the tortillaria was two shops down from my house! For those who have never experienced a fresh tortilla, it is a little bit of heaven rolled in your hand. Top it with fresh avocado and tomato, perhaps a squirt or two of lime and ahhh, just thinking about it is making my mouth water!

So, how happy am I to be living just a few hundred miles as opposed to a few thousand miles from Mexico! In my naive little mind I was thinking,' with such close proximity, similar climates, certainly the same foods, there must be some cross over in the cuisines somewhere.' But alas, Jamaican food, albeit excellent, is a far far cry from my beloved Mexican comida. There is but one "sort of" Mexican restaurant in all of Kingston! And although, I have yet to try it for myself, I've been warned that I will be sadly disappointed.

Okay, no problem, I think, because Mexican food is also my favorite thing to cook. I'll make my own, all the ingredients are available here: beans a plenty, tomatoes to die for, peppers that are beyond spicy, rice of course, even tortilla wraps (although not fresh from a tortillaria, but nor were they in Brooklyn)...oregano, basil, cilantro, parsley, chili pepper, lime, onion, garlic...yup all here...except...CUMIN!! The spice!! The one flavor that brings it all together and shouts, MEXICO!! I scoured every shelf in every grocery store and health food store I came across. One shop had a whole wall of herbs and spices 3/4 of which I had never heard of before, but do you think they had cumin? I devoured the internet thinking that maybe cumin was called by another name and I was just overlooking it, but no. It seemed that it just didn't exist here.

Mo was patient with me and kindly waited while I 're-searched' each time we were at the market. It soon became a half-hearted quest. I resigned myself to asking whoever was coming next to the island to bring some with them. My shelves would look like a 1950's bomb shelter with hundreds of bottles of "provisions" lining them.

Then, on our last trip to JoJo's on Saturday as I'm standing in front of the spices, Mo grew weary of my quest and commented,"We've already looked here three times and even asked if they carry it. Time to move on Rae, time to move on." But then wait, the clouds parted, the heavens opened, trumpets blared...

The most gigantic bottle of cumin I had ever seen!! I took it in my hand and held it high above my head like a trophy. (I swear Eye of the Tiger started playing somewhere in the background...Adrianne, Adrianne...) Mo hung his head and started laughing. My smile was from ear to ear!

When we got home, I took out the tortillas, chopped some cheese, sliced tomatoes and peppers and got out the lime...it was quesadilla time!

Peace and Wellness,

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