Spice Savvy

If you understand how flavors and spices work together in the cuisines of different countries you can create dishes even when you don’t have a recipe.  And, if you’re not crazy about an ingredient, this list may give you ideas on what you might want to include instead to ramp up the flavors.

Chefs know fat is a flavor transporter.  Fats expand and spread the flavor of whatever dish you’re preparing.  So, if you remove fat it’s a good idea to replace it with something else so the result isn’t boring or blah.  Hope these lists provide you with a little inspiration.


Dijon mustard, butter, cheese, cream, apples, carrots, onions, shallots, mushrooms, celery, white or red wine, liqueurs, tarragon, thyme, parsley, olive oil, black olives, anchovies, capers, fennel seeds, garlic, tomatoes, lemon




Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, pecorino, mozzarella, ricotta, white and red wine, porcini mushrooms, onions, garlic, fennel, pasta, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, sage, rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley, dried red pepper flakes, black olives, sardines, pine nutes, anchovies, capers, raisins



Dill, chives, beets, onions, apples, red cabbage, turnips, potatoes, herring, shrimp, ham, salmon, dried fruit, horseradish, sour cream, butter, sweet mustard




Red peppers, green olives, oranges, almonds, garlic, seafood, ham, chorizo, sherry, red wine, paprika, saffron, garlic, eggplant, mushrooms, seafood in olive oil, anchovies, white sheep and goat cheeses, couscous, rice, chickpeas



Egg noodles, sauerkraut, red and green cabbage, beer, onions, carrots, mushrooms, pork, beef, bacon, sausages, mustard, capers, pickles, caraway seeds.




Olive Oil, white wine, seafood, garlic, onions, tomatoes, lemon, eggplant, oregano, mint, parsley, dill, feta cheese, lamb, raisins, black olives, pine nuts, garbanzo beans


Feta cheese, sage, figs, tomatoes, lemons, raisins, currants, pistachios, almonds, yogurt, white beans, honey, black olives, grape leaves, lamb, capers, oregano, bay leaves, grapes, cinnamon, vanilla, mint, thyme, rosemary, dill, garlic, spinach


Lemons, mint, cloves, cinnamon, nuts, raisins, pistachios, eggplant, couscous, chilies, olives, phyllo, chickpeas, pine nuts, garlic, capers, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, prunes, oranges, honey



Vanilla beans, sweet potatoes, pork, seafood, ginger, pineapple, papaya, allspice, curry, pepper, cilantro, mint, tomatoes, soy sauce, limes, raisins, coconut, bananas, collard greens, oregano, avocados, rice and beans, rum, mango

South American

Beets, corn, avocados, beef, chilies, basil, cilantro, hearts of palm, tomatoes, bananas, coconuts, limes, coconut milk, pork, oranges, papaya, peaches, black beans, black olives, rice, potatoes, sausages, garlic


Black beans, corn, rice, roasted red peppers, limes, jalapeno peppers, corn and flour tortillas, shrimp, fish, seafood, beef, sour cream, white cheese, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chocolate


Bean sprouts, onions, soy sauce, five-spice powder, shitake mushrooms, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, lemongrass, coconut, pork, fish and seafood, white sticky rice, garlic, scallions, eggs, duck, anise


Almonds, cardamom, carrots, cashew, chili, cloves, coconut, cumin, garlic, ginger, lentils, basmati rice, mustard, onion, potato, cauliflower, tamarind, tumeric, mango, bananas, clarified butter (ghee), okra, fish, chicken, lamb or mutton



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