Spice Library Encourages Taste Adventures

Illustrations by Keith Uyeda

Galangal and advieh. Hmm—two exotic destinations? Sort of. These are words that signal you’re going to be transported—to a taste sensation.

They’re spices, and they were part of a “spice library” that chef Erica Holland-Toll set up in the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons in April. The hope was that students would “smell, taste and take” a little bit of the more than 100 spices and herbs, and Holland-Toll was gratified to see how the idea clicked. “A good quarter of the jars were emptied and needed to be refilled,” she notes. 

Spices

Galangal, known for its use in a variety of Southeast Asian dishes, is derived from the root of a plant and is sometimes characterized as similar to ginger, but also hotter and sharper. Holland-Toll describes advieh as a Persian spice blend of rose petals, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and allspice.

Holland-Toll’s inspiration came from residential dining’s Harvest of the Month program, which was dedicated to spices and herbs in April. In May, the educational focus shifted to a trio of ingredients: seaweed, flowers and berries.