Thursday, August 14, 2008

Spice Plantation

by Mike Pardus

Okay, short one this time - and I'll get the visuals in later. A friend of our guide is plantation manager of a fairly extensive spice plantation in the "cardamom mountains" of northern Kerala. Usually not open to tourists, we arranged to have two guides - the chef of our hotel and the plantation manager. I had my reservations at first - it's been raining for days up here and a two hour, soaking wet walk in the forest did not sound all that great. Wrong.

It was incredible. The plantations used to specialize in only one spice, but because of quick and dramatic market fluctuations they found it more stable to diversify. Today, for the first time I got to see the common spices of my trade in their natural settings - vanilla beans, cardamom pods, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, ginger and turmeric all growing together - in a tangled hog-podge of jungle. The plantation manager would explain the how's and whys of the growing and the chef would give background on use. We quickly developed a game of guessing which spice grew on which bush by smelling and/or tasting the leaves. It was a really cool, VERY educational day. I have a ton of photos, which I will add when I can.

Thanks for reading - MP


redman said...

sounds fascinating, Chef Pardus

Ms. Glaze said...

I love Kerala. They have fish, beer, and plumbing. Something that Coimbatore, where I lived, I had none of. What a neat experience. I'm sure it was a bumpy ride to get there, but well worth it!

Did you know that Kerala has the high rate of literacy in the world!?!?! Bises, Ms. Glaze

Cameron S said...

Sounds cool as hell. I toured a smaller plantation on St. Lucia a few years ago, they had lots of spices and plants and it was wonderful to see what the plants, trees and vines were like before being harvested and bagged.

James said...

Safe and delicious travels Chef!

MichaelG said...

Wonderful posts! Thank you Chef Pardus and Chef Del Grosso.