top of page
  • Writer's pictureJay Murray

Spice Grrrs

This is an image of a sinister mushroom planning to eat an innocent mushroom and has no relevance whatsoever.

Today, as I sat by the fire with my morning cup of joe, watching the rain go by, silent but for the gentle pitter patter of minivans, my beloved Chester - my golden - by my side, I flipped through the pages of the local newspaper. It’s been my Saturday ritual since I was five, and it’s one of the few moments of serenity in my otherwise unrelenting struggle.

Comparisons to HD Thoreau are not lost on me; indeed, I often wish our paths had crossed. Thoreau, founder of the ill-fated Waldenbooks shopping mall mainstay, is no longer with us at the time of this writing.

But I digress in this blissful moment of serenity. I am distracted, not by thoughts of how the internet has brought about the demise of so-called mom and pop retail, but by an “article” reprinted from a “magazine.” It was Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 200 songs from the 1980’s.

Naturally I skipped to the top 20, assuming it would encapsulate the 20 tracks from that era, that era whose music was meant for ears such as my own, that remain at least somewhat relevant. Now, I don’t mean to put the cart before the horse here, or whatever, but that list was, for lack of a better word (what would Thoreau say?), wrong. Rolling Stone neglected some 1980’s acts altogether: Simple Minds, Psychedelic Furs, Dexys Midnight Runners, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and Echo and the Bunnymen to name but a few. In other cases, without getting into detail, RS had the right band, but the wrong song. However, I will tip my hat to its recognition of Atomic Dog, bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay, and so on.

Thoreau once wrote, in “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, that he, Frost, “took the one less traveled by.” So I must diverge from my metaphorical “road” of acne and being told that my earlobes are impossibly large, and take the “less traveled by” metaphorical “road” of necessary spices. Clearly those are the only choices available to me, and I, too, wish to make “all the difference.” To your cooking - get it?

Anyway, it was a morning much like today. Chester and I had just shared a pipe of lovely Frog Morton on the Town tobacco when we came upon a headline too grandiose to ignore: The Only 7 Spices You Really Need in Your Pantry. Its author, a person who cooks I suppose, would have you ditch all but bay leaves, ground cinnamon, ground coriander, ground cumin, crushed red pepper, chili powder and black peppercorns. However, in an apparent asterisk-free self-rebuttal, she will allow you the addition of Berbere, za’atar, ras el hanout and shichimi togarashi. That this brings the jaw dropping headline of a mere seven spices to a more reasonable 30 or so is beside the point I have yet to make. My point is that, just as Rolling Stone sealed its fallibility in permanent ink, like an undeserved star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, this list, the original, beyond being preposterous, is just dead wrong. Bay leaves? Not so much. Ground spices? Chili powder (which, in itself, contains a minimum of five spices)?

I have yet to make a list of the spices that you need and why, but I promise you it’s coming soon, and when I post it, not today, it will be highlighted in blue and have an accompanying link to the ignored Cooking School section of this site. I think.

19 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page