Thursday, May 12, 2005

There's a Thesis Waiting To Be Written

There is an anthropological science that is not being used to its fullest potential: the semiotics of spices. I'm telling you, there are secrets of human existence being left untapped in kitchen cupboards across America and the world. The secret that is currently of chief interest to me is this: what convergence of cultural factors can explain the invention of "pizza seasoning"?

Someone needs to explore this urgent question. I myself have been pondering it since purchasing a lovely wooden, rotating spice rack for two dollars at a stoop sale. Either Mark and I have some decidedly weird cooking habits, or times and tastes have changed a lot in the last couple decades. Out of the 16 pre-labeled canisters that came with the rack, only eight of them were intended for a spice that we already had shoved onto the cluttered top shelf our kitchen cabinet. Yesterday I spent an hour dusting the floor with mustard seed and cinnamon, feeling like a serious drug lord as I loaded up a plastic bag with a massive pile of crinkly, dried green herbs.

Alchemy


Now "Savory" (I refuse to believe that sprinkling my dinner with an adjective will enhance it) houses dried chives, and the pizza seasoning has been replaced by ground ginger. The disgusting celery salt was dumped to make way for dill, and the crushed mint (??) container is the new home for cinnamon. The pizza seasoning (basil, oregano, marjoram and garlic, apparently) now contains basil because there was no separate container specifically for basil alone. Can you believe that? Pizza seasoning has a place on this rack, but basil on it's own is left out entirely? Fascinating.

Honestly, pizza seasoning is simply not a part of my gestalt--I can't interpret it. I can't place it in its cultural context. It's time for the professionals to get on this subject. I want some answers--don't you?

Posted by Hello