|Portrait by Mark Moore of Pict Studios.|
When cooking with Oz, we discovered one such spice while preparing the Lentil Soup. Searching for something to give it a little extra zing, we came across the above-pictured jar in Oz's kitchen cabinet. Glancing at the label, the kitchen crew immediately knew it was Turkish in origin (the Turks like their i-with-no-dot letter quite a bit,) but were all uncertain as to what, exactly, it was. Physically, it resembled a slightly finer version of crushed red pepper, but there were almost no seeds in it, and the color was much deeper and richer, almost like Sumac. It smelled fragrant, but didn't have a particularly unique odor. Being the intrepid culinarians that we are, each sampled a small portion (a couple flakes,) and found it to be somewhere between the flavor of paprika and crushed red pepper, but with a marked sweetness.
From what Oz's father (a Turkish fellow) says, and what little English information was found by another researcher, it's a family spice, a sort of "house blend" of ground/crushed peppers used widely in Turkey.
It was quite delicious, and definitely added a certain je ne sais quoi to our soup.
The moral of this story is this: Never be afraid to try something new. Flavors are an experience as powerful as any other, and can catalyze creativity or be the springing-off point for research and new culinary understanding. Sometimes, if you're lucky, a new spice can be just what you're looking for.