Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mistress of Spice

Wandering through the city last week we reached the Block Arcade (opposite the Hopetourn Tearooms) and I stopped short and let out something like a squeal. Because... a new shop had opened. A spice shop.
I promptly dragged my reluctant friend inside and set about exploring because...
My present book is about someone who opens a spice shop.
And I've never actually seen one.
I've swooned over pictures in National Geographic and Pinterest of big woven baskets of colourful spices in suqs and bazaars, and I've always loved all the spice goods available at Oxfam - spice drawers and unground spices and mortar and pestles... but I've never been in a shop solely devoted to spices.
A few people have asked when reading the book and discovering that Nell, my beloved character, opens a spice shop 'so what does she sell?' and I have refrained from hissing at them, and instead replied 'all things of wonder and aromatic delight!' but it was very lovely to walk inside and view an actual spice shop in it's rather pricey flesh!
This spice shop specialised in different mixes, such as hot-cross-bun mix and apple-cake-mix and various mixes for fish dishes and chicken dishes and all sorts of exotic salts. Looking at how this shop was laid out made me think more about how Nell's shop is laid out.
Dragons' Nests and Fire Birds is the first in a series of five, and Nell's  four sisters, who each get their own adventure and book, open respectively a cafe, a tea shop, a silk shop and a coffee shop. So I'm having a lot of fun designing 'dream' shops and researching.
Not being at all restrained by anything approaching reality (the emporium is a gift from grateful dragons, powered by the dragon sleeping in the basement and all the goods come from the magical Lands of Lost Lore) I can let my imagination spiral unchecked.
So... in my spice shop (ahem, I mean Nell's spice shop) the spices will all be sold unground (to keep the flavour longer and because I love the shapes of star anise and nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon) while there will be ornate spice drawers and delicately made spice bottles, carefully carved boxes containing frankincense and myrrh (especially around Christmas) and of course spice treats and goodies. Spice scented candles and soaps and of course gingerbread houses and hearts. Mortar and pestles will be neccessary for spice grinding (as all goods come from the Lands of Lost Lore electric grinders are out of the question.)
Downstairs in Nell's sisters cafe, tasty spiced  will be sold... sticky spiced puddings, vanilla macaroons, highly spiced crumbles and rice puddings, while there will be spiced teas in the tea shops and melt in the mouth cinnamon truffles in the chocolate shop...
Now I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

What would you sell in a spice shop? Do you have a shop you dream of opening? 

1 comment:

  1. Maybe little bonsai cinammon trees, nutmeg trees, clove trees.. or bigger ones in big pots like citrus trees. Also pots of herbs. and maybe oils as well - rose oil, jasmine oil, frangipani oil..