Sadly, many missionaries don’t know how to cook much of anything, and what they do cook is often bland. One tip on how to enhance the quality of missionary life is to make sure your missionaries have a good collection of spices and know how to use at least some of them. Spices not only can transform a boring dish into a much more delicious meal, but provide numerous health benefits. This month’s Scientific American, for example, has an article on the scientific interest in one of my favorite spices, turmeric, for its possible health benefits. It’s antioxidant activity and multiple other effects may be helpful in a number of areas (and some have speculated that turmeric may be a factor in the very low rate of Alzheimer’s disease in India, though it’s just speculation now). Many spices have strong antibacterial potential and are rich in antioxidants and just make sense as part of a varied and balanced diet. Cinnamon has also gained a lot of publicity recently for its effects in reducing cholesterol. A doctor of a stroke victim I know told him to add more cinnamon to his diet, in addition to expensive medication.
Use spices with wisdom and balance, but use them! That’s my opinion, anyway. And I think they make an excellent gift for missionaries. Small plastic containers can travel easily as elders move about, and yet provide a big kick to meals.
My suggested essential spices for missionaries (besides salt and pepper): basil, oregano, turmeric, cayenne pepper (or another hot pepper – Aleppo pepper is best but harder to get), garlic powder, cinnamon, and a curry mix (with or without turmeric as a major ingredient). Cumin and paprika might also be considered, and perhaps a popular blend such as Italian seasoning. Other essential spices?
On my mission in Switzerland, we had a rack with 22 spices that I accumulated, and it certainly made life even more worthwhile. But I think a smaller number will do just fine for most elders.