How You Know That Time Is Passing


I love to cook. I’ve been buying stuff to cook with for 30 years. As such, and as a Californian besides, I’ve always looked for the best ingredients. Going to Asian markets for actual Chinese long beans. Googling aji amarillo to find out where I might buy Peruvian chiles in the Bay Area. (Failing but that’s another problem). Purchasing actual nutmegs vs. ground nutmeg powder. And, being a California, looking to buy organic wherever possible.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. The fancy grocery store. We have more of those here than strictly necessary to support the population. I was looking for, among other things, red pepper flakes. I use them for the aromatics in Chinese food (the stuff you throw in the wok to cook for 15 seconds before you cook the rest of the ingredients), with sauteed spinach to keep the balsamic vinegar company, to throw together some enchiladas to use up last night’s grill-roasted pork loin.

I gather that red pepper flakes have fallen from foodie favor. Because if I wanted organic, which I did, I had to buy WHOLE DRIED RED PEPPERS. In a glass jar. This has never happened before. I wavered. I tried to move my aging habits forward in 2 minutes, as I stood in the spice aisle. I could not. I have cooked with red pepper flakes, as I said, for 30 years.

What, I ask, was wrong with flakes? Even as I ask, I know. I know. Less full-flavored, less authentic, less something or other. One more thing to chop is what I am thinking. But I have vowed never to be the kind of old person who grumbles that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Next time. Whole dried red peppers. Got it.

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7 Comments

  • 07/24/09
    5:46 am

    Reply

    Maureen at IslandRoar said...

    Bummer.
    I cook more and enjoy it more as I've gotten older. I feel wild and crazy throwing in flaked ingredients like red pepper (I confess to, on occasion, using flaked garlic and onion as well, but please keep that between us). Whole ingredients are wonderful, I know, but sometimes time is a factor.
    Oh well, guess we gotta go with the flow.

  • 07/24/09
    7:23 am

    Reply

    class-factotum said...

    I have been working out the same bottle of red pepper flakes since 1997. I have to be careful not to use more than 1/4 tsp or so because man, they can make that stew picante.

    I like bulk spices, though. Cheaper and fresher.

  • 07/24/09
    9:41 am

    Reply

    Maya@A Beach Lovers Place said...

    Those red pepper flakes are my friends. If only you could sent one of these fancy grocery stores to the tiny town of Tiverton (RI)! We do get a weekly delivery of organic vegetables from a local farmer though!

  • 07/24/09
    3:38 pm

    Reply

    the Preppy Princess said...

    We love our flakes. Of all kinds. (Had to do it!)

    But we generally keep fresh ginger and nutmeg and lemon grass on hand, and always use freshly ground nutmeg, so we understand the need for spices of a certain sort.

    Have a terrific weekend Miss LPC!
    tp

  • 07/25/09
    7:14 am

    Reply

    Princess Freckles said...

    I don't mind the flakes! In fact, I think they're great!

    In response to your comment about ballet, yes I was a ballet dancer, took a break, and I'm actually back at it again now! One of the best decisions I've made in years was to start taking class again. its different this time around though, I certainly put less pressure on myself. Your daughter must enjoy being on the East Coast and so close to NYC and all the opportunities the city offers to attend performances! Here in Detroit, we are blessed to have a dance series every season at the Opera House, but this year they had to cut it back due to funding (or the lack there of). My fiance and I were sad to hear that, but we do plan to attend a few performances this winter.

    Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

  • 07/25/09
    2:56 pm

    Reply

    Mrs. Sitcom said...

    You made a valiant effort…Rome wasn't built in a day :) haha. What a bummer — so frustrating to have a product you like discontinued…!

  • 07/28/09
    7:52 am

    Reply

    Lindy said...

    I, too, now always use freshly ground nutmeg, after my 99 year old neighbor gave me her nutmeg grater and a jar of whole nutmegs. Once you use freshly ground, there's no going back!

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