May 20, 2008
Everybody’s heard of Lapland sesame, one of the key ingredients in producing a Hand of Glory, but fortunately for safe homes, nobody today knows what they meant back in the early centuries when they wrote up those recipes. I certainly didn’t start working on figuring the truth out because I meant to turn into a super-robber, but those old ingredients turn up in different places, and for reasons of another recipe I needed to find out.
For reasons of journalism–feel free to skim ahead if you paid attention in elementary-school social studies–I will remind my readers what you already know about Lapland sesame; namely, that you can’t make a Glory Hand without it, along with other things like green vitriol and the hand of a hanged man. A Glory Hand is, of course, how burglars keep you asleep while robbing you blind: once they light the hand, which burns like a candle, the sleeping homeowners can’t wake until you extinguish the flame.
Now, obviously an innocent confectioner doesn’t need a Glory Hand for anything like that (although it has occurred to me that if someone else lit one in my home maybe I’d finally get a good night’s sleep). However, Lapland sesame is also listed in the Pharmacopoeia das Benmoirecz, one of my favorite sources of rare seasonings, as an excellent seed to make comfits from, and since anyone who’s been to my shop knows about my obsession with classic comfits, I of course had to find a way to try this out. Lapland sesame, according to Mrs. Hillard, the compiler of the Benmoirecz, has a bitter flavor totally different from what we now call sesame, but not unlike wormwood. Also being an appreciator of absinthe, I couldn’t resist the possibilities. So off to the spicer I went!
Perhaps this is where I should mention that I absolutely hate John Pinnard, who runs Nagspice. The only thing is that there’s nowhere else to go if you want good spices and seasonings and herbs and whatnot. The man has connections I can’t begin to explain and can get you things you really have no business being able to get, so I put up with giving him my business despite the fact that I think he’s an asshole. Pardon my francais. And frankly, I don’t always think it’s any of John Pinnard’s business what I’m up to with what I buy. So here’s a transcript (paraphrased) of our transaction the day I went to do some reconnaissance on the subject of Lapland sesame.
JPinnard: Morning, Annabelle!
Me: Hi, John.
JPinnard’s dog Fletcher: Grrrrrrr.
JPinnard: (not very convincingly) Down, Fletch.
Fletcher: (grudgingly) Grr.
Me: John, I’m not going to beat around the bush. Do you have any sources for rare sesame?
JPinnard: Sure, Annabelle. I got Open Sesame, and some uncut Street Sesame, and…
Me: You’re not funny.
JPinnard: Sure I am. Okay, what kind of sesame are you looking for?
JPinnard: There’s no such thing.
Me: Mrs. Hillard says differently.
JPinnard: There’s no such thing. Mrs. Hillard is a stupid blockhead.
Me: Take that back, John.
JPinnard: Mrs. Hillard is an idiot. Mrs. Grieve could kick Mrs. Hillard’s fifteenth-century ass.
ME!: TAKE IT BACK OR I WILL KICK YOUR–
JPinnard: Fletcher thinks Mrs. Hillard shouldn’t have quit her day job, even if it was turning fifteenth-century tricks.
ME!: WHY YOU SON OF A–
Which is how I usually leave Nagspice looking like I lost a fight. And for the record, I have all the respect in the world for Mrs. Grieve. I just hate John Pinnard, because he is an asshole.
Also if you were wondering why Magothy Treats is out of peppar kakar this week, it’s because I also needed to get cardamom and I was so mad I forgot about it.