The Spice of Our Ancestors

When it comes to spice the Thai do not play nice. Each meal I ate was the spiciest meal I has ever eaten. For examples, my last day in Thailand I ate the spiciest meal I have ever eaten.

Pat Krapao Moo Sap (spicy pork and basil salad.) prepared by this women.


By bite three face was beet red, bite five my lips went numb, ten bites in and my nose was running like a Niagara Falls on a rainy day.

I cried. I am not afraid to admit it.

Spicy Face

Spicy Face

Thailand, your climate is hot. Why the desire to eat pure (though often delicious) fire?

Simple answer, spoilage.

As an animal attempting to eat ancestrally, I consume a good deal of other animals. I make a respectful effort to ensure that is kept fresh and chilly, not wasted. In the tropics heat and humidity make this endeavour more challenging.

BBQ Chicken and  Pork Belly

BBQ Chicken and Pork Belly

Hence the spice.

Chillie, curries, peppers, they all boast impressive antimicrobial properties that protect eaters from rapidly fermenting flesh.


Thus, the more my mouth melts the less food born baddies with burn up my belly. Good news to me as my travellers diet is comprised of 90% street cart food.

Central America, Central Africa, India, and of course Thailand, they all have long histories of hot dishes.

the arguement could be made that modern refrigeration has undone a lot of the need for such spicy measures.


But I’m sitting at my new favorite¬† BBQ stand, watching a chef cut papaya and crack crabs in to a mixing bowl. O, I be grateful for chillie powder.


Helpful Thai phrases:

Lek lek pec kap khon kap = just a little spicy thank you

and for the daring,

Mak mak pec kap khon kap = spice it up


I would like to take a post to appreciate the shop that spices my shelf.

The Oakland Spice Shop

The Oakland Spice Shop

As I have begun to grow as a chef and confectioner I am experiencing time and again the integral role of the right spice at the right moment plays. As with most thing related to cooking

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Simple is best.

The Oakland Spice Shop is full of singular wonders to take a meal from (forgive me) satiation to sensation.

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In the great tradition of animated French rats, one such flavor sensation recently came in the form of a Spanish Smoked Paprika that took a ratatouille over the moon.

Oakland Spice Shop stocks the essential. Particularly…

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Few things are more important, as most food processors know to well unfortunately.

The singular addition of their applewood smoked salt combined with the substitution of coconut sugar took Coracao’s hazelnut toffee bark and thrust it to the realm between heaven and earth, aka Heath.


Rubbing a cut of pastured pork with a Cyprus mushroom infused salt marooned the lost loin in a wilderness of delicious, a twist of lemon found it and brought it home.

I am being melodramatic, but cooking melodrama by nature. Hell it has enough reality shows to prove that… Chopped anyone?

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Here is the Details for those able to make the visit:
Oaktown Spice Shop
530 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 201-5400

Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 12pm-7pm
Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 12pm-4pm
Closed Mondays