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I’ve been doing some food research lately.

Segue here: I’ve told you often that I’m a lousy cook. Well, y’all, I happened to see a little of America’s Worst Cooks the other day. I know my way around a kitchen, having attended the Cordon Bleu school with my mother when we lived in Paris. However, I’m bored by most stuff so I don’t pay a lot of attention to it (I’d rather be writing). Bottom line, compared to those people I’m Julia Childs.

Since I can’t eat onions and garlic or anything citrusy, I decided to go on a search of spices. Was there anything that could substitute for these (and not add to my acid reflux)?

I found a few that I’d never heard of before my research.

The first one is Asafoetida.

I read something that warned people about the spice. One of the root words is fetid, as in having an offensive odor. I made the very bad mistake of opening the jar of Asafoetida and sniffing deeply. Holy Batman! (Okay, that’s not exactly what I said, hence the title of this post.) That stuff is powerful. It smelled like onion and garlic to me. To my son it smelled like diseased old socks. To a friend it smelled like something dead. But when you cook with it, it tastes just like onions and garlic. Success!

The second spice was Sumac.

I’d heard about Sumac before, but this isn’t the plant that causes you to itch (although they are related). This is a really pretty red spice that adds a faint lemony taste to food. It’s very faint, but at least it works in some dishes.

 The third find was Yacon Syrup.

Yacon Syrup is extracted from the roots of a plant that grows in the Andes. It’s naturally sweet and is high in fiber. It’s supposedly better for people because it doesn’t raise blood sugar. However, it does have some deleterious effects if you consume more than two teaspoons per day. I haven’t received my order yet, but I’ll be sure and let you know what I find. (I don’t consume sugar and I am avoiding sweeteners, so this might work. Or not.) 

How about you? Have you encountered any weird and unusual spices lately?