Class Report

Spice Up Your Life

Teacher: Katy Chang (above), EatsPlace owner
Location: EatsPlace
Date: Feb. 10, 2015

See more photos of this class on Flickr!

Did you know that pirates were sometimes paid with pepper because it was once as valuable as gold? Or that dead Egyptian royals were anointed with cinnamon and cardamom as part of mummification? (See recipe below.) These were just two of the interesting facts Katy covered in Spice Up Your Life, a history of and introduction to spices.

What we learned: It often takes just three spices to create the flavor profile of most cuisines, Katy explained. For example, if you’re making an Italian dish, you may only need basil, oregano, and sun-dried tomatoes. A Japanese recipe might call for no more than soy, miso, and sesame.

Also, remember that spices go bad. If yours have been sitting in a cabinet for three years, it’s time to get rid of them, Katy says. First, though, mix your old spices with some warm oil (not too hot, so as not to burn your spices) and throw a spice-tasting party.

What we explored: Katy’s Baba’s Cooking School product line includes chai mix, kimchi salt, fresh kimchi, bitters, and a fermented black-bean hot sauce. The hot sauce was what students tried in class. They also got to sniff out the scents in the chai mix and kimichi salt. 

And here’s how to make your own mummy spice:

Ingredients: cinnamon, juniper berries, black pepper, myrrh, cardamom, and wine (palm wine preferable)

Wash the body with wine, then carefully rub the spice mix into its cavities.

Seal with beeswax, gauze, and a pyramid. Wait 3,000 years and enjoy!

Erika Rydberg, a D.C. transplant from the northernly lands of Boston, got involved with Knowledge Commons DC after an awesome experience in a Brookline, Mass., community skillshare during her college days. By day she works at a library and by night she can be found performing poetry, listening to music, or cooking copious amounts of vegetarian food.