Sunday, 15 June 2008

Star Anise

Sunday 8.55am

I was feeling lazy. Nicola had asked for Sweet and Sour Pork for tea but I just wanted something I could put in the oven and forget until it was ready. Spare Ribs popped into my head as the answer, served with plain boiled rice and a simple crunchy green salad of lettuce and cucumber perhaps, perfect. I found a recipe in Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries that sounded good but required some of these things in the picture – Star Anise. I have only ever seen these in books and have always imagined them to be so hugely expensive that I have always substituted Fennel seeds instead. But seeing as I had to go out for the pork anyway . . . . .

The local supermarket didn’t have any so it was off to the delicatessen - Boldersons for a look, I could have coffee and watch the posh people at the same time. And there they were, nestling in little cellophane packets amongst all the other spices and only $1.90 a packet ! Pretty as they are, the thing about anise is the smell and flavour so once seated with my coffee (and lemon cake) I had to open the packet to investigate. And the intensity of that smell just blew me away. The purity of it was just incredible, fennel is nice but the seeds have a sort of musty or dusty smell in comparison. I am not sure what the other customers must have thought, but like a cat rolling in catmint, I was instantly hooked and repeatedly had to have another hit. Happiness.

Life is never dull when you have spices

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