Flavor to Savor: Cumin

I am a little saddened to be the purveyor of the rather unfortunate news that traveling for vacation has, for me at least, the effect of dulling one’s inclination toward creative pursuits (wait, did I just claim that this is a creative pursuit? Haha.) Even though I have found this to be true, it doesn’t mean that the vacation was completely unproductive. In fact, I was blessed to be able to try food both new and old. Fantastic sushi, tamago, olives, gelato, doughnuts, shawarma, falafel, coffee, pastries and Indian. More on all these amazing experiences is forthcoming, but it just so happens that I purposefully mentioned Indian food last, as today I must finally actually complete the blog post on cumin that I tried to start before my vacation (!), and cumin just so happens to be a really big component of Indian cooking. I concede that it is just one facet of the amazing plethora of flavors that is Indian cooking, but nevertheless I do believe that it is my favorite of them all.

Cumin is a spice, usually sold in a dry powder, that is ground from the seeds of a flowering plant. As I tried to do research on this my most favorite of spices, I could find nothing that was really interesting about it. And apparently all people have to say about its flavor is that it is “nutty and peppery” (what?!) and is often confused with caraway.

Since I find caraway to be one of the most disgusting things on the planet (clearly no bias here) I am disappointed by this vulgar association. And by the fact that no one can say anything more exciting about cumin than that it is nutty and peppery. These descriptions are far to vague and off the mark for my taste, and while I understand that reading a description of a flavor is not the most exciting thing, I am pretty sure it could and should be more exciting than that.

Also, the only interesting historical things I ran into were long and exhaustive lists about all its health benefits. While I am glad to hear that my joy in eating it is not ill-founded, I do not find these lists anything interesting or noteworthy. I you, dear reader, would like to read them yourself, feel free to type “cumin” into google.

I digress. Moving on; cumin does not remotely taste like caraway. Instead, cumin enjoys the distinction of being the only spice necessary for a great guacamole, and the spice that gives a great curry its mellowness. It is the softness behind the bite of that amazing Indian curry you had the other day (oh, wait, was that just me?) I do not think of it as peppery at all. It shares some of the spiciness of chile powder, but none of the kick.

I could go on forever. 🙂 My advice? Try it yourself, and not just in guacamole and curry. Get adventurous with your cumin cravings. Its worth it.


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