31 May 2008

Spicy

I recently made a startling discovery.

I had known for a long time that almost everything sold as 'cinnamon' is actually something called cassia; something far cheaper for mass production.

So the other day I went to a shop that sells spices in bulk. They had both cinnamon and cassia, so I got some cinnamon quills and some powder.

When I opened the powder and sniffed it, I thought something was wrong. it smelled more like garam marsala than cinnamon. I put some in my semolina and tasted it; it tasted somewhat like nutmeg, somewhat like allspice - but not like what I knew as cinnamon. It was a more earthy taste, more mellow, without the kick of cassia. It was wild and warm and beautiful and somehow familiar yet like nothing I had ever known. I truly wondered then if this really was cinnamon.

I took one of the quills and stirred a hot chocolate with it. The blend of true cinnamon and chocolate was amazing. That same warm, earthy, mellow, wild taste mingled perfectly with chocolate. It was a blend designed in heaven.

I think I will always love cassia like I always have. But now I know the difference, my choice has widened. I want to make everything I've ever made with cassia again with real cinnamon and see what it's like. I want to try the two together.

The possibilities are endless.