Check out Spice Girl, our new column devoted to -- you guessed it. Have a favorite place to buy spices? Send us there; leave a message in the comments.
The culinary landscape would be much flatter and a heck of a lot bleaker if it wasn't for one thing: spices. In fact, our ancestors used salt (although arguably a seasoning, not a spice) before they began cooking with fire, and the use of sesame seeds as a spice was documented as early as 3000 BCE in an Assyrian myth. And, let's not forget the spice trade, which pretty much developed the world as we know it. Whether you stick to basics like pepper and cinnamon or are more adventurous, it's hard to imagine life without spices. Even the Paleo (a.k.a. caveman) Diet doesn't discriminate against them.
Unfortunately, big box grocery stores are not known for carrying fresh or unusual spices. If you're looking for a way to spice up your life, you can't go wrong at Baiz Market, a Middle Eastern grocery with its own restaurant, Al Hana.