Out Of Place Spices

Written by Melissa DeLuca

Those who know me well, know that I am most comfortable in my kitchen.  Everything is in its place.  I love to create new recipes, adding traditional spice blends, as well as ones I create on the fly.  I have several containers of spices and spice blends.  There are all different container shapes, sizes, and price points.  I even have some I have brought back from vacations in other countries. They are all in alphabetical order. Some people collect shoes, figurines, or ties, but I collect spices.  I love to try new spices and flavor blends. I have so many that they just have to be that way, or otherwise I would never find what I need.  Woe is the person who puts the garlic near the bay leaves.  Extracts have their own little nook.

I have actually gone to the pantry after someone else has been in the kitchen and exclaimed out loud, “Who put this here?  That is NOT where that goes.” I get pretty upset when things are not put back where they should be.  After all, how complicated is the alphabet?  Surely everyone can see the letter “O” goes way after the letter “C”!  Some may even say I’m a bit obsessive about it all. 

I love to create new recipes.  It’s not only my outlet for solitude and creativity, but it’s a way I show love to the people closest to me.  I want to cook them good food, but I want to be the one to do it.  When I am cooking, it can only be me in the kitchen.  I want no help.  I want no one watching. Other people in the kitchen are just in my way.  My “hands are full.” I want to be the one who is the center of attention; the one getting the accolades for this marvelous creation that is about to happen.

As our children have grown and moved out with families of their own, we rarely have gatherings where we are all together anymore.  We have recently started a few new traditions to attempt to remedy that.

Not long ago we were all together for just such an occasion.  In an uncharacteristic move on my part, I asked my daughters to come help me make some of the dishes.  Each one was in charge of a dish.  I gave only general directions.  They grabbed their own spices and utensils.  We chatted, stirred, and had a great time.  We caught up with each other’s lives.  We spent quality time together in the kitchen-my kitchen.  We had a great time during and after the meal.

The next day, it was just my husband and I again, and it was time for me to make supper.  I went to the pantry and when I went to grab the spices I wanted, I noticed none of the spices that my daughters had used were put back where they had found them.  They were nowhere near where they should have been.

Instead of getting angry or frustrated, I smiled, and I reflected on the time that was spent making connections using those out of place spices.  I was comforted that I could grasp at the crumbs of the time we now are able to spend together as a family.  Time out from busyness and a few miles here and there to connect, to create, to love.