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Spices are more than aroma for Missy Vacovsky

Posted on Sunday, January 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm

STAFF WRITER

Elena Cawley

 

Shoppers can now find exotic spices, such as nigella seeds and fenugreek, and various unique tea blends at Missy’s Spice Shop.

The store, which is located at the Northgate Mall, opened its doors in October. In addition to spices, it offers roasted coffee, essential oils, handmade soaps and honey.

Owner Alaunda Missy Vacovsky found her passion for spices when she was a little girl.

Missy’s Spice Shop partners Sam Brown and Missy Vacovsky pose in their Northgate Mall shop on Thursday, Jan. 4.
–Staff Photo by Cameron Adams

“My great-grandmother was an American-Indian, and she used herbs and spices to cook,” Vacovsky said. “And when someone got sick, she would use different herbs to make drinks for us to help us feel better.”

Vacovsky has always loved experimental cooking with various spices, and when she moved with her family from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Hillsboro a few years ago, she found herself having to drive to Nashville to find seasonings she wanted to use.

“I like to cook, and there wasn’t a spice company and shop here,” Vacovsky said. “Spice availability was very limited in the area.”

That’s how the idea for creating her own spice blends was born.

“In 2014, we built a little shop on our farm, and we started selling online and doing shows,” she said.

Since then, the venture has gradually grown. In October, Vacovsky opened Missy’s Spice Shop, and she now uses the shop in Hillsboro for manufacturing the products.

 

Sharing passion for spices

Not only can shoppers find nearly 100 blends of spices at the shop, but they can ask questions and learn about each of the seasonings, how they were made and their history.

The spices on the shelves of the shop have come from all over the world.

“I get them from Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, China, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Central America, Germany, Croatia,” she said. “I like the heavier spices, such as the cloves, the allspice and the cinnamons.”

There are several types of cinnamon, with Ceylon called “true cinnamon.”

“The Ceylon cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka,” she said. “And I carry the Korintje cinnamon, which comes from Indonesia. The strongest cinnamon, Saigon, comes from Vietnam.”

Vacovsky also offers blends.

“I have about 80 blends, and I order them and grind them in small batches so everything is fresh and flavorful,” she said. “When I develop the blends, I package them myself and I watch the quality.”

 

Spices ruled the world

For Vacovsky, spices are more than merely aromatic products.

“Spices ruled the world,” Vacovsky said.

The history of seasonings goes back to Middle East at least 4,000 years ago.

The flavorful powder has been the reason for exploration, wealth and wars.

“Venice was built on spices,” she said. “And the Europeans set off to find new places because they were looking for new spices.”

In the 10th century, Venice and Genoa began prospering through spice trade. Over the years, the rivalry intensified and led to war in the 14th century, in which Venice prevailed and secured monopoly for the next century, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

The aromatic powders were extremely valuable, so it’s no wonder they brought so much wealth and caused conflict.

According to the University of Toronto, in third century, a pound of ginger cost 5,000 days’ wages,

However, things have changed since the days of the spice trade. With spices today being inexpensive and easily available, Vacovsky encourages shoppers to try different flavors.

“Experiment with food,” she said. “Try spices and play with them. It’s not like they’re worth your weight in gold anymore; you can get them and experiment. Sometimes, people are afraid of them and that’s what we’re here for. We try to give advice and share our knowledge. Find a good recipe and give it a shot.”

The prices of a bag of spices at Missy’s Spice Shop range from $3 to $7.

 

Teas

Vacovsky also offers nearly 100 tea blends, with the prices of the teas ranging from $3 to $6 per bag.

“The tea comes from all over the world, as well,” she said. “The Far East has been doing teas for thousands of years. Just like coffee, each tea has its own flavor depending on the soil.”

Tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plants, and the taste changes depending on how the tea is processed and where the plants were grown, she said.

“White teas are processed the least,” Vacovsky said. “The leaves are picked and left to dry, and that’s pretty much it.”

The black teas can be smoked over fire or left to dry in the sun, said Vacovsky.

Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Tea blend, consisting of green tea leaves, rose petals and natural cherry flavor, is one of Vacovsky’s favorite blends.

In addition to teas made from the Camellia sinensis, the shop offers herbal and fruit teas, called tisanes.

Missy’s Spice Shop is located at the Northgate Mall, suite 241, and is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call (931) 570-2977.

Elena Cawley may be reached by email at tngenrep@lcs.net.