Monday, June 27, 2011

What's in a name

When I decided that I should give food blogging another try, the first thing I had to decide was what to call the thing.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches? The food I have probably eaten more of my entire life than anything else, but it was taken. The Examined Plate? I like the idea of thinking carefully about food, but it seemed a bit too clinical, and possibly too high-falutin'. Variations on Kitchen Dreams suggested themselves, but were mostly taken as well.

The name I eventually went with, From Allspice to Zatar, is intended to suggest the range of cooking endeavors I hope to chronicle here. On a recent trip to Newport, RI, I visited a lovely new spice shop, still in its first week and yet to have its grand opening. My main reason for going in was the fact that it was raining, and I didn't have an umbrella. The shop was deserted, so I could haul the stroller inside without being in anyone's way. I did just that and looked at the shelves of jarred condiments, teas, and spices. The proprietor was friendly, anxious to help, and I think a bit nervous about his new venture.

I couldn't think of anything I particularly needed, but I wanted to buy something to support a brave soul casting off lines and venturing into the retail world in this economy -- even in a tourist town with plenty of money. I picked up a little bamboo salt box (and almost named this site after it), and some sumac on a whim, because I didn't have any.

He got very enthused about the sumac and said it was used in zatar, at which my ears pricked up. I knew that I had seen some recipe or other recently that called for it, and ended up not making it because I didn't have everything that was supposed to go into the blend, and they didn't have any at our market. He let me sniff an open box of the stuff, and I added it to my little stack at once.

So among other things, this will be a quest to use it!

I don't have an overall goal or theme here other than to cook good food and try to share what I find. Most of my weeknight meals tend to be on the fast and simple side, but once in a while I get to do something more complicated. In the summer, I try to get to the farmer's market at least once a week, but the season is relatively short here in Massachusetts. I cook healthy by default, but don't obsess over a cream sauce now and again. I like to bake as well as to cook when I can find the time, but most nights we don't eat dessert.

Let's see what happens, shall we?