''The Secret Spice''

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  • Published: 25 Mar 2016
  • Updated: 25 Mar 2016
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It's a culinary story. Enjoy!


2. 2.

t hat contributed to the versatile dishes in Africa, make African cuisine diverse,colourful and multi-faceted.

In Zambia, Muriel and her husband ate the most delicious porridge ever-''Bambara'', made from rice,sugar and peanut butter. Another food dish made from boiled starchy food crops, named''Fufu'' were riveting. The fried bread''Mandazi'',''Couscous'',''Tagine'',''Suya'',''Mafe'',''Matooke'' and ''Nyekoe'' were just some of the hundreds of different dishes from the different parts of the black continent. Of course, Hans and Muriel could not just try absolutely everything. But even these African dishes were completely enough for the sensitive palates of the two foreigners.

  The African continent seemed endless. Time was not enough for the German family to explore it all. They had another destination that awaits them. The new place was another continent-North America.

The United States of America are one vast territory and after a considerable wondering, Hans and Muriel chose to visit the state of Maryland. They went to one of the biggest cities there-Baltimore. The German culinary travelers reached Downtown Baltimore. The city has more public monuments than any other city in the country. Baltimore is really worth visiting.

After several hours of sightseeing, Hans and his wife were starving. They entered the first restaurant they saw. It was called' 'The Secret Spice''. Undoubtedly, the name was original.

The old couple was eager to taste some American food. By coincidence the owner of the restaurant was in the place for a short visit of his staff.

Meanwhile, Hans and Muriel picked a table in the corner near a big window with wooden frame.''The Secret Spice'' offered various seafood and crustacean dishes. The most popular dish in the restaurant was and still is blue crabs, seasoned with orange-red spice mix,named''Old Bay Seasoning''. That special mix of herbs and spices was a big part of the state's cooking for almost a century. It's aroma is unmistakable. There were many crab lovers and eaters in Baltimore.

Hans and Muriel definitely did not want to miss this dish and ordered two portions of it.

While they were waiting their order, Hans and Muriel were chatting something in German, knowing that nobody here will understand their language. But they were wrong. The owner of ''The Secret Spice'' perceived a familiar speech with his one ear. He was born in the land of possibilities but his ancestors were from Germany. The owner never have traveled to the European country but his parents taught him the language since the days he was little boy.

He saw the old German couple and enthusiastically went to them.

-I am sorry to interrupt but I heard you talking in German.

-Yes, yes,we are German citizens.-said Muriel

-Well,continued the boss of the restaurant, I am half-German. My name is Michael Brunn. I am so happy to see fellow Germans in my restaurant.

Hans and Muriel did not expect at all to find out that the owner of this cozy restaurant has German blood in his veins and felt incredibly happy about that fact.

After talking to each other a bit more, Hans, Muriel and Michael tried to know themselves and have told different stories. The German family told Mr. Brunn about their culinary travels. Michael, on the other hand, decided to tell them the story of his grandfather. Hans and Muriel received their dish and while eating with appetite, were listening Michael's story in a daze:

-In 1938 my grandfather Gustav Brunn who all his life was spice merchant, was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. The reason for this was because he came from a Jewish family. My courageous grandmother,his wife, somehow secured his release. I am not sure how she helped him escape without being both shot. After that sailed for America,together with their two children. In my grandfather's luggage there was packed his hand-cranked spice grinder. As you may guess, my grandparents ended up in Baltimore.

Here Gustav Brunn set out looking for work. Any work. With his experience in the trade with spices, granddad Brunn did not know English at all and several days later when his lack of the language, he was fired. With no other perspectives in front of him,Gustav rented a small food store. There he was more than a seller. He also mixed blends for the pickles and cured meats that were popular in Germany. It was not long, however, before he observe the local passion for crabs. My father just realized how much the citizens of Baltimore adore crabs but they cook them with their own improvised crab-seasoning spice blends. Brunn thought there might be a market for premixed crab spices, and test ingredients and proportions and one beautiful morning of 940 came up with the perfect spice mixture for crabs. It consists of celery salt, mustard, pepper, bay leaves, pimento, mace, cloves, ginger, paprika, cardamom and cinnamon.

-Oh, my God, your grandfather created a masterpiece!-broke all of a sudden Muriel who was overexcited.

-Yes, dear lady, continued the grandson of Gustav Brunn and an owner of ''The Secret Spice'', but at first no one was interested in it. Local cooks preferred their own spice for crabs. Luckily, a wholesaler at the fish-market agreed to sell my grandfather's blend which he called''Old Bay'' and from that day nothing in cooking crabs in Baltimore was ever the same. Everybody here just fell immediately in love with the new spice mix for crabs and the rest as you can assume is history.

-What an amazing,amazing story!-said Hans to Michael and patted him on the shoulder.

-Gustav Brunn should be Germany's national hero. Why I have not heard about your exceptional grandfather before I wonder, Michael!-added Muriel in a loud voice.

-I do not know but I am glad you have learned my grandfather's story. I wish you''Bon Appetit'' and hope one day to see you again.

 The two plates with blue crabs, seasoned with the ''Old Bay'' spice mix were already served. The German culinary travelers took the first bite and ascended themselves in pure heaven. Baltimore,U.S.A was their final destination from the food tour they have organized spontaneously a few months ago.

Now when the trip came to an end, Hans and Muriel spent several weeks, writing the draft for their own culinary book that will bring the title''Travel and Eat: an astonishing experience by two Germans''.

The notes they took all they way their culinary travels came now in handy. The two hundred pages were ready for print. Some of their photographs from different cities will also find place in the book.

When the culinary book was finally completely ready, the stomach travelers sent a copy of it to Michael Brunn by post.

One day he received a parcel,opened it and found inside a book. When he saw that Hans and Muriel wrote it, he peeked inside the pages and almost at the end of the book read:

'' When you travel to North America do not forget to go to the state of Maryland. There is a cozy restaurant in the city of Baltimore,called''The Secret Spice''. There you can expect the unexpected. You will be delighted with the countless variety of seafood dishes but one dish immediately caught the eye of the customer. Just let the waiter serve you blue crabs from the region with a very special spice mixture. I can close my eyes right now and remember the aroma and the taste of the dish which can instantly transport me into pure heaven. When I and my husband left the place, I already knew what the secret spice of the restaurant is. It consists of four letters. LOVE.''

Mr. Brunn closed the book. Happy tears appeared on his face.


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