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Harissa – My One True Love

 Ground up TRUE LOVE in a ramekin

Ground up TRUE LOVE in a ramekin

All my life I thought I knew what love was. Until I went to Atlanta one weekend to see #bae and happened to buy some Harissa seasoning. I wasn’t even supposed to be over there by the spice wall. I was only supposed to buy some Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans (aka SINFUL COFFEE HEAVEN) for my cousin Rae, because cousins have your back. However, while there, something deep down in my soul told me to wander over to the spice wall.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I hate Atlanta and am so glad I no longer live there. However, I LOVE the spice wall at the Dekalb International Farmers Market. It touches my soul in a way that I didn’t even know could be touched. All those spices, on shelves, in alphabetical order, stacked up in clear containers, with white labels and black type face, filling up a whole wall. It’s magical.

In true Chooch the Creep fashion, I stared longingly at the spice wall. I then took two steps forward and stared again. And then, I released the Super Creep. On a Sunday, the most crowded day of the week to be in a farmers market, I glided my acrylic claws against EVERY. SINGLE. SPICE. I pressed my face against the containers and got a whiff of the various scents. I whispered “I love you and I’m sorry I abandoned you. Do you still love me?” They didn’t answer. But it’s cool cause I have enough love for the both of us. I wanted to lay down on a bed and just have someone pour EVERY.SINGLE.SPICE all over my body. Apparently that’s too much to ask (whet?!) because right in the middle of my love affair with the spice wall people decided to yell at me in different languages like I was in their way or something. I’m assuming they didn’t realize that this was live footage of two lost lovers reunited. So, I gave them a pass for their obvious rudeness.

I picked up about 8 spices that day. One of them being Harissa. Now, I’d first had Harissa cerca 2010 at my dear friend Tasha’s when she made some Harissa spiced chicken – chicken that awakened my senses and gave me a purpose in life. I always said I was gonna buy it, but of course, me being the professional procrastinator that I sometimes am, I never did. Until that day at the farmer’s market. When the Harissa jumped off the shelf and into my hand and said “Use me!!!” Who am I to argue with divine intervention?

If you don’t know what Harissa is, it’s a spice blend of hot chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, cumin, coriander, caraway, mint and sometimes tomatoes and rose petals and other secret ingredients that I’m sure Google won’t disclose because hater-ade. It’s used in Northern Africa, the Middle East and some places in Europe. To me it’s not spicy at all but I eat hot peppers for breakfast so…

Let me tell you. I put that shit Harissa on everything like Granny and Franks Red Hot Sauce!!!!! Fried eggs, shrimp, cauliflower, grits, mixed with raw honey on some biscuits, in homemade Caesar salad dressing, on roasted asparagus, in pasta sauce. It’s the magic ingredient for everything prepared with love. With every bite of Harissa spiced food, my heart grows ten sizes ala the Grinch on Christmas, and I am so filled with love and gratitude and just feel overall blessed to be in this committed, supportive, loving and trusting relationship with Harissa. Below is a picture of some fusili in a lemon butter caper sauce with harissa sautéed shrimp, mushroom and spinach.  I cried while eating it. I’m sure my tears added extra protein and flavor. Get you some Harissa – you’re welcome.



Hint of Love, Pinch of Sôl,                                                                                                        Chooch