Seductive Spices

“What the hell are we going to do with three pounds of goat shoulder?” Geneva’s tone revealed her doubts about the gift from Jacob’s friend, Katrina.

Jacob flashed a conciliatory grin at her. “You needn’t worry about it, darling. I’ll figure something out. And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.”

Geneva scowled at the package Jacob had placed on the counter, then at Jacob. “Fine. But if I don’t like it, I’ll expect you to buy me dinner out. I’m not going to pretend to like it just because she’s your friend. Katrina is a little weird, if you ask me. Anybody who raises goats just to kill them and eat their corpses is a little ‘off.’ And it’s even more bizarre when they give pieces of the dead animal to their friends.”

Jacob smiled as he said, “You’d think you were a vegetarian from the way you talk. I’ve seen you greedily rip the meat off baby back ribs like you’d been trained by a hyena.”

His smile was not returned. Geneva stalked out of the kitchen, leaving Jacob in peace to figure out what to do with the unexpected gift.

“Well,” he said to himself, aloud, “I know she likes Vietnamese goat curry. But we’ve got no lemongrass and there’s not enough coriander seeds. Hmm.”

Jacob pawed through the spice cabinet, then rummaged through the pantry and the dry vegetable drawers, pulling items out of each. Then, he foraged the refrigerator. When he’d finished, the counter was littered with ingredients: cooking oil, the salt container, a large can of curry powder, a jar of allspice, a tin of thyme, two onions, two habanero peppers, a piece of ginger root, a can of coconut milk, a can of crushed tomatoes, and five Yukon Gold potatoes.

After all the ingredients he wanted were on the counter, Jacob turned his attention back to the goat. He cut it into two-inch chunks, spread it out on the cutting board, and sprinkled it liberally with salt. All righty, then, that’s ready to go. On to the next step of the battle.

He chopped the onions, cubed the potatoes, peeled and minced a two-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped the head of garlic, and diced the habanero peppers. Then, Jacob mixed the spices in a white soup bowl: eight tablespoons of curry powder and one tablespoon of allspice seed. He pulled a large pot from the rack that hung over the kitchen island, put it on the stove, and turned the burner to medium high. He measured a quarter cup of corn oil into a cup and poured it into the pot.

While the oil was heating, Jacob patted the pieces of goat dry with a paper towel and then he measured two tablespoons of the spice mixture into the hot oil. Almost immediately, the sweet fragrance of curry powder and ginger and hot oil permeated the kitchen.  During the next thirty minutes, he carefully browned the pieces of goat in the oil. When a few pieces were brown, he set them aside in a glass bowl and started another set. By the time they had all browned, the kitchen was awash in the odors of allspice and seared goat, along with the pungent aroma created when curry powder meets hot oil.

Geneva peeked her head into the kitchen from time to time during this process, sniffing the air but saying nothing.

When all the goat meat had browned, Jacob turned his attention to the onions and habanero peppers, browning the onions in the same pan in which he’d browned the goat meat. The aroma of cooking onions, coupled with the odor of curry and allspice, filled Jacob’s nostrils. Oh my god, this is wonderful.  I hope she likes it. I think she will.

The addition of the minced ginger and garlic to the pot resulted in another burst of aromas, the melding of which seemed to act as a magnet for Geneva. “What are you doing in here? It smells like you’re emptying our spice cabinet into that pot.”

Jacob turned toward the door when he hear the sound of her voice. “Leave me be, woman. I’m making something you won’t like so I can eat it all by myself. You’ll get your dinner at McDonald’s just as soon as I’m done.”

“The hell I will! You’ll take me to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse if I can’t tolerate that swill.”

“You won’t have to tolerate this swill for awhile. It won’t be ready for another two or three hours.”

Geneva spun around in the doorway and, in her trademark stalk, left the room.

Jacob poured the meat and bones back into the pot, along with the coconut milk, tomatoes, four cups of water, the remainder of the curry powder mixture, and a tablespoon of thyme. He stirred the mixture, inhaling deeply of the fragrance from the pot.

“Okay, I’m done for awhile.  The last thing I’ve got to do is add the potatoes after the meat’s done. Then it will take about half an hour or so for the potatoes to cook.”

He got no response. He stepped out of the kitchen and into the front room. On the coffee table, Geneva had left a note. “I’m going shopping with Maggie. I’ll be back in about four hours.”

***

By the time Geneva returned home with Maggie, the neighbor who unbeknownst to Geneva was infatuated with her husband, the meal was ready to eat.

“Care to join us for some Jamaican goat curry, Maggie? I’d love to know what you think of my cooking skills.” Jacob, fully aware of Maggie’s infatuation, did all he could to encourage it.

“Thanks, Jacob. I’d love to,” Maggie answered, a look of regret immediately registering on her face as if to apologize for accepting the invitation without Geneva’s concurrence.

“Yes, please do join us,” Geneva said. “You might have to come back and help Jacob finish this stuff off, too. He always makes stuff too hot for me. I know you and Jacob both have an affinity for making things hot.”

Jacob snickered under his breath at his wife’s response. She has no idea how true that double non-entendre is!

The three of them, sitting at the dining table, tasted the finished dish.

Maggie’s eyes grew wide. “Wow, this is really great! I love it! My compliments to the chef.”

“Actually, the stuff is supposed to get better over a day or two so that the flavors have time to layer and blend just right. The recipe made enough for eight servings, so you might want to come back day after tomorrow to have it again, just to compare.” Jacob glanced at his wife.

Geneva nodded. “Just as I thought, it’s too spicy for me. I’ll eat this serving, but I think you owe me a trip to Ruth’s Chris when I get back from visiting my sister in Cambridge, Jacob. Maggie, you should plan on coming back to finish this off with Jacob.

Jacob noticed Maggie’s face flush. My hope has been fulfilled. She likes it.

 

 

 

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Seductive Spices

  1. Double non-entendre… I love it! I am now hungry for Jamaican goat curry; although I have never before had it.

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