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The Spice(s) of Life

As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life – and to turn that on its head, it’s good to have a variety of spices in your kitchen!

As I was rearranging my spice rack, it gave me an opportunity to think about how important spices are to the foods we make. It’s hard to imagine what it was like before spices became commonplace in kitchens, and how bland our food would be without them.

It got me interested in reading more about the history of spices, so I Googled it. Well, it turns out more than one country and era lay claim to various aspects of spice history, which reminds me of competing claims for Ponce de Leon’s first landing site in Florida.

I think the most that people can agree on about Ponce is that he arrived here in Florida in the early 1500s. As for where he landed (and when), when I lived in Punta Gorda we claimed his arrival in Charlotte Harbor, along with lots of other locations around Florida similarly making claim for their towns. The history of spices also seems a bit all over the map, and frankly, all I wanted to do was rearrange my spice rack!

My kitchen spices have such pretty colors and interesting smells, and I enjoyed spending some time with them – unhurried by the usual quick grab for them as I’m cooking. And it occurred to me that photographing spices would make an interesting subject, so out my camera came and off we went.

As you can tell in the photographs, I have a favorite brand of spices that dominate my collection. There are some spices I use frequently (a couple of them, like cumin, once again needed to be added to my grocery list) – and others I rarely use at all. I love the smell of some of them, and others make me cringe (sorry, cardamon).

Their textures and tiny shapes become much more obvious when they’re photographed, and I especially enjoyed seeing them sitting in the little 3″ wooden spoons. And, you can use a dark background and surface when styling your shot to make spices look quite dramatic. (Be sure to see where I couldn’t resist using my fingers to draw lines in them … after the more organized shots had been taken!)

Further below is a photograph that asks you to identify the 16 spices in a circle by matching them with the alphabetical list. Do you know your spices?!

Spoiler alert – the answers are provided at the very bottom of this post, so don’t scroll to the end until you’ve tried guessing the 16 spices!

Can you identify the 16 spices? Match the numbers to the alphabetical list below! (Spoiler alert – Answers are at the end of this post.)

  • Cardamon
  • Chili Powder
  • Chives
  • Cinnamon
  • Dill Weed
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ginger
  • Mustard Seed
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Red Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Sea Salt
  • Sesame Seed
  • Thyme

Answers to Spice Identifications:

1 – Chili Powder. 2 – Mustard Seed. 3 – Thyme. 4 – Garlic Powder. 5 – Rosemary. 6 – Nutmeg. 7 – Oregano. 8 – Sea Salt. 9 – Dill Weed. 10 – Ginger. 11 – Chives. 12 – Cinnamon. 13 – Paprika. 14 – Sesame Seed. 15 – Red Pepper. 16. Cardamon.

What’s your favorite spice, and what do you like to cook with it? (Be honest – is it cardamon??) Be sure to comment below!

January 14, 2022
January 16, 2022



  1. Reply


    January 16, 2022

    Favorite is hard to say. I think Chili Powder followed closely by paprika and cinnamon and then cumin.

    • Reply

      Susan Evans

      January 16, 2022

      Excellent – thanks for commenting, Ken! Mine is red pepper flakes followed by nutmeg and then cumin.


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