Penzeys is a great source of culinary herbs and spices. They offer generous quantities of a wide variety of fresh herbs and spices for reasonable cost. Available by mailorder or in their shops.
I order from them on the web for mail delivery, sometimes combining an order with a friend to split the shipping costs, and I’ve never been disappointed in the quality of their products. Once when an order arrived damaged (a bottle of their excellent double-strength vanilla extract had broken) their customer service quickly made it right. Typically there is a “free” bonus gift — a sampler size jar — included in each order.
Penzey’s catalog always includes stories and recipes from creative cooks who use their products. Often the stories feature the cook’s family. They offer descriptions of the products and help with selecting from the alternatives (for example, four kinds of ground cinnamon), recipes, and storage hints.
While they offer many different blends, for the most part I prefer to make up my own from the individual ingredients, so I haven’t used many of the blends.
But the icing on the cake is a letter from Bill Penzey in the current catalog in which he introduces a new blend — “Arizona Dreaming.”
He writes with passion about frustrations that are mis-directed, “But sometimes I look at the news and these days it makes me sad. Are we really going to leave unchecked the companies whose reckless pursuit of billions have so damaged our economy and our environment, and instead let our frustrations be redirected at the people who have spent their lives doing our unwanted jobs for dollars an hour? In our need to restore our sense of self-control are we actually going to reward politicians who are not working to bring us together, but instead are forsaking America’s beautiful 234-year history of diversity? These are decent people’s lives, real loving families where children will be separated from parents, where grandparents will be separated from grandchildren for what possible gain?”
Clearly aimed at Arizona’s xenophobic anti-immigrant laws, the letter (I hope you will read it in full!) invites us to celebrate the diversity that makes America great and that has so profoundly influenced our enjoyment of cooking and eating, and in particular of the magical influence of Mexican culture.
Bravo! And Ole! Let’s support merchants who have the courage to take progressive political stands!