Spicy Blog

Erik's Food Blog - Berlin, Germany

Oh, where to begin. How about my hometown? Immediately, two very special Berlin dishes come to mind. The first one, and my all time favorite, is Goose, the best ever winter dish. The second one is Berliner Currywurst (Curry Sausage). That one depends on the quality of the sausage, and until today, I have not ever found a sausage that even comes close, in the US or elsewhere. The Currywurst mit Pommes (with Fries) is not just a great fast food dish but also a big-time Berlin-specific cultural phenomenon. That is a worth a blog post all by itself. In the meantime, visit Berlin and try it (preferably late at night). Alright back to the goose. A friend of mine, who is a better cook than me,

Engineering vs. Design

It feels like eons since we last heard Apple's long-forgotten tagline "It just works." Sadly, few, not even Apple, are practicing that philosophy anymore. You know something is wrong when you see a man-sized poster hung at the front door of an authorized Apple dealer that says "Buy an iPhone 8 today, and it comes with our professional setup service for free!" Since when did an iPhone require professional help just to set it up to the user's liking? Well, pretty much since the world lost Steve Jobs for good. We simply can't take anything for granted, can we? Just when you thought that someone has finally got it right, it went backward right before your eyes. You would think that, in this da

Spice Pricing – Why are prices so high and at same time all over the map

Spice and herb prices vary substantially based on the ability to grow them in large quantities, the difficulty of harvesting them, preserving and transporting them. Not surprisingly, expensive spices can also get diluted or "cut" with other substances. Based on the weight value of some spices, "cutting" may approach the value of cutting illicit drugs. There is a great discussion of what is used to cut spices at Food 52 - https://food52.com/blog/15514-why-some-spices-are-so-expensive-why-you-should-spend-the-money#comments and at the LA Times on why spice prices vary greatly depending on where they are sold, such as the traditional way through grocery stores chains versus newer channels - ht

Spice Container Reimagined and Redesigned

There are things in life we take for granted---some for good reasons, others make you wonder why. One of those how-come-I-never-thought-of-this moments came about a year ago when asked to design a better spice container. Are you kidding me? I didn't know there could be such a thing as a better spice container. What's wrong with all the tin cans and McCormick bottles everyone grew up with? OK, I know they are not the sexiest items in your kitchen, but they are, without a doubt, functional and have served you well for ages. Or have they? The issue at hand was usability. It became evident to me when I was asked to precisely measure a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, my most favorite of them all, out

Sustainable Design

Sustainability is a standard consideration during the product design process, even if designing for sustainability gets dismissed quickly by many designers. Many product designs focus on using materials that can easily be recycled but more contemporary considerations center on the whole product life cycle, including materials, manufacturing processes, transportation, recycling, and disposal. For detailed discussions, the Wikipedia page describes sustainable design across the globe and various industries in great detail - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_design Even the Government’s GSA has a section discussing sustainable design even though in their case, they relate it largely to r

Clutter-free kitchen

The kitchen is not only the most trafficked room in any home but also the room with the most uses. Cooking is only one use of the kitchen. Kitchens are used for storage of mail, newspapers, magazines, keys, tools, batteries, candles, plants, toys (for every generation), first aid kits, fire extinguishers, items without a home, items without a purpose, dead animals (sometimes live ones), etc. There are great articles about how to organize a kitchen to maximize no just space but functionality. Besides the main concepts, almost all include the reduction in equipment and the organization of spices. Michelle Higgins of the NY Times describes 7 steps to a clutter-free kitchen -https://www.nytime

How do Spices Deteriorate?

There is a lot of anecdotal information about how and when spices deteriorate. One of the best short descriptions of the actual process was found on this website (in their comment section) - https://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2009/10/do-spices-really-degrade-in-light.html “The chemical compounds that give spices their characteristics (aroma, color, pungency, etc.) do get altered mainly by oxidation. Oxidation is facilitated by light and heat. Aromatic compounds normally contain a chemical structure called–literally– "aromatic ring," which can be broken by oxidation. after that, they lose the original aroma." The Huffington Post developed a visual guide which can be found here - https://www.huf

Benefits of Organic Spices

The benefits associated with organic food are pretty well established and resulted in a sizable share of organic foods across all food categories. Now, how does that apply to organic spices and herbs? Generally speaking, probably even more than to regular food items. That's because lots of spices are dual usage items, i.e., they have food seasoning and medicinal properties making it even more important to use high-quality spices that were not manipulated, contaminated, are pesticide free, etc. Here is a list of general as well as specific health benefits of spices and herbs from an authoritative source (WebMD) - https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/over-50-nutrition-17/spices-and-herbs-heal

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