If you have ever wandered through an Arab marketplace in sweltering heat and felt that, after the first few exciting minutes of enjoying  the middle eastern hullabaloo and the beautiful colors of spice piles,  you wanted to rush into the fresh air before you fainted or threw up, it might be because of the cumin. Cumin has a very strong flavor and smell, and  being surrounded by it in a covered marketplace that has the sun beating down from atop, can make you feel claustrophobically panicked and trapped. Yet it is no surprise that this and other spices used to make sauces and curries in the Middle East and India are so prized. Cumin, like many “warm” spices is antimicrobial and in regions where the heat is high and refrigerators were one time non-existant, spices were used to help food stay good longer. I find the when cumin is overused, as it often is in the states, your food ends up tasting like an arab’s armpit. For those of you who fear I might have stepped over some politically incorrect police line, please let it be known that back in the shtetl my great great grandmothers’ armpits smelled like gefilte fish. Our pores breathe what we eat! Though when used sparingly in the right dishes, cumin adds a touch of the exotic and a perk of the desert princess. Cumin:

  • is traditionally, a remedy for allergies.
  • improves digestion and alleviates heart burn.
  • is antimicrobial, so welcome it when you find it in foods when traveling.
  • is a great source of iron.

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