Saffron, Safran, žafran (Crocus sativus)
I know, I know, saffron is expensive! But that is why they sell it in microportions. Would you want to resist trying it? I don’t know about its taste, we use it in only as a colouring agent in Best Basmati Rice EvahTM and we will do so only until we have used it up, I guess. The same as pink, I don’t really appreciate yellow: I prefer my food to be mysteriously dark or off-white. Red and green are appreciated, too.
Sage, Echter Salbei, žajbelj (Salvia officinalis)
I bought my first (ground) sage not long ago and I am still busy praising it and using it constantly. I even managed to show some spicy discipline a few days ago by using only sage and black pepper with a zucchini dish (The usual recipe: roast the spices in some clarified butter, add the vegetables, some water and whatever else strikes your fancy, e.g. feta cheese. Go away before your creativity strikes once again.). I should be more careful though: this traditional medicine is toxic if overdosed.
(A short aside for luciferous logoleptics among you: Would you guess what Salvia Divinorum stands for?)
Tarragon, Estragon, pehtran (Artemisia dracunculus L.)
Hmm… Dragon’s-wort, is it? Contains Estragole, which is suspected to be carcinogen and genotoxic, so it should be used in small quantities only. This would mean the odds are against using my newly purchased ground tarragon… I guess the most important rule for all spices is not to overdo them, so I am looking forward to including some tarragon into our cooking soon.
Of course I love some real Slovenian tarragon potica whenever I can lay my hands on it, which is not often: they don’t make it in eastern Slovenia.
Thyme, Thymian, timijan (Thymus Vulgaris)
I use thyme whenever I feel like tasting a typical flavour of the famous cuisine de Provence: according to the description of it in Wikipedia, they also use tarragon, rosemary, fennel and sage for that purpose. So we are already on the way there (We do live only a few kilometers away from the former French border and we even managed once to drive to the nearest French supermarket (yes, a Leclerc) to buy some cheese. It was OK, but I seem to prefer Swiss cheeses. Maybe one day, we’ll go shopping for special ingredients in small, lovely shops, but we haven’t so far. Not just because the food’s more expensive there. You need some time and peace of mind to enjoy it.)
Turmeric, Kurkuma, kurkuma (Curcuma longa)
Another member of the Royal Ginger Family. Turmeric makes curry, mustard, cheese and many other things yellow – it is used as food additive E100. But don’t worry: it is supposed to be quite healthy and is also a widely accepted, useful medicine.
I use it in a rice soup for dealing with hangovers, which does not happen very often 😈