Spice World: On My Obsession with Prefab Seasoning Mixes

Whenever I travel to another country, I make a point of visiting their grocery stores. I like to peruse the shelves like a local when in reality I am carefully evaluating every non-perishable item that could possibly be smuggled home in my suitcase. More often that not, I come back with these:

Seasonings from Austria and Czech Republic

Wait a minute, you might be thinking, you can buy this MSG-laden crap in the U.S. And why would anyone settle for a questionably proccessed instant potato-gulash mix when they could make their own, from scratch, using ingredients that do not read like the back of a Doritos bag?

Well, here’s the thing: I don’t buy seasoning mixes for what they contain. I buy them for what they represent: supercharged shortcuts to a country’s quintessential dishes. Time-honored culinary traditions that have been crusheddehydrated, and stuffed into crinkly little packets that sell for less than 2 euros. And so I hoard them like cheap souvenirs in hopes that once I am at home I will recreate some of the foods and drinks I enjoyed abroad.

Only I never do. All of the above pictured seasonings, purchased during trips to Austria and the Czech Republic in 2012 and 2013, are expired. It’s not that I don’t want to make meatballs, it’s just that it has never occurred to me to make meatballs out of a bag. Even when that bag is bright yellow. And even when it is staring me in the face from behind the nutmeg jar every time I open the cabinet. 

Maybe I should just become a collector. 

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2 Responses to Spice World: On My Obsession with Prefab Seasoning Mixes

  1. HM says:

    Maybe you’ll be on hoarders, drowning in packets.


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