Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Spices of The Silk Road

Did you ever wonder if you could duplicate the Coca-Cola formula if you knew the ingredients? Probably not because the proportions are of the utmost importance.

Along those lines, I just had the following exchange with someone at The Spice House in Chicago:

Me: I was disappointed to find out you no longer make Silk Road Seasoning. When I was in Chicago, one of your employees helped me purchase the ingredients to make my own, but it has never tasted quite right, probably because I don't know the proper proportions.  Would it be possible for someone to send me the "recipe" so I can try to duplicate this seasoning I have come to depend on?  Thanks for any help you can give me!

SH: We wrestled with your request as recipes are considered intellectual property and huge law suits take place over the confidentiality of these. We have been involved in several of these with employees who stole our recipes and started their own companies. Unfortunately, these are very fresh in our mind, and even though  your request is an innocent one, money spent on lawyers has caused us to be overly cautious now . So I hope you understand that we can not share the recipe, it is a blend we might want to sell again.

The best I can do is give  you the ingredients, in the order of the largest to smallest amount used. I hope you may be able to work with that. Ginger, salt, sugar, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, coriander, cumin, mustard powder, cardamom.

Again, I hope you can understand our logic.

We do appreciate your business,

Patty Erd
The Spice House

Me: I totally understand your position, although I assure you my
intentions were solely for making seasoning for my personal use.

Given I can't get the recipe, would it be possible to make a special
order of a sufficient size that it would be worth your while?  We have
gotten used to Silk Road Seasoning on a number of dishes and my
concoction just isn't working.  Just let me know if this is an option.

Thanks so much!

I’m waiting for an answer to my last message.

So here’s the question: If they decided never again to make Silk Road Seasoning, do you think they ought to share their recipe with customers like me who have enjoyed it? I wish there were statues of limitation for things like recipes.

My son, the intellectual property lawyer, says The Spice House people are perfectly justified in guarding their secrets forever.
2/4/10 Update:  Here is the answer to my last message --

We have a smaller recipe that makes 2-3/4 pounds that we could make just since you seem to like this so much. If you would like for us to do this, please call our shop at 312 274 0378 and ask to speak with a manager. It is hard to turn down someone that likes your product so much. (but please don't tell  your friends we do this!)

Patty at The Spice House

All's well that ends well!


Blogger Rayna said...

Your son is right, Barbara. But if it were I, I would play around with the ingredients till it tasted right. Why not experiment again?

10:38 PM  
Blogger Rayna said...

Me again. Cooking intuitively and making art intuitively are the same thing, aren't they? Experience, a willingness to ask yourself "what if?" and then see what works. I wonder if every artist is a good cook...

12:34 AM  
Blogger LiLu said...

Justified, maybe... but I'm surprised they didn't at least respond to your last letter where you offered to PAY THEM AND STUFF. If that doesn't show that your request is perfectly innocent and genuine, I don't know what could.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Rayna -- It's all about being willing to take a chance. I used to experience the same challenge and thrill when I designed and made most of my own clothes as a teenager. You simply had to accept that not everything worked equally well and had to be willing to make some changes or even start over at times. But it was worth it to have something original that was MINE!

LiLu -- I think The Spice House will get back to me in a few days. I will be curious as to what they say. Most people will find a way when they stand to make a profit. But I'm not willing to buy 25 pounds of Silk Road Seasoning!

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you probably already know that I'd side with the spice people on this one. I'm a pretty fierce defender of people's rights to their work, no doubt in part because I've had my work "borrowed" (stolen) and used without compensation, attribution, etc., and know other musicians, artists, and writers with similar experiences.

That being said, I love the idea of you experimenting with your mixture! It seems to me they gave you as much info as you really need to start zeroing in on it...


1:40 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Justified but frustrating to the Nth degree. I hope they do something to help.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I am happy to report The Spice House came through. See my addendum to this post!

11:09 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

P.S. Let me know if you would like some Silk Road Seasoning since I'm going to have a lot of it!

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm impressed by their customer service! And with your persistence. :-) I'd love some of the now-legendary mixture!


10:49 AM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

"(but please don't tell your friends we do this!)"

Nice, Barb!
You Rebel!
You blogged it!

1:31 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- A jar will be on its way to you when my new stash arrives!

BH -- The guy at the store seemed only too delighted to take my order. I'll bet he would make it for anyone reading this! Want a jar or are you cooking these days? It is as good as you-know-what for giving things a great flavor.

2:23 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

HAHA- Again, Bulletholes beat me to it as I was going to say that you just told all your friends that they do it.
Hmm, wonder if there could be a lawsuit in that?
And great minds think alike. I made Osso Bucco Friday nite and soup Saturday nite. I thought it was relevant as you mentioned both soup AND osso bucco in your later posts.
Happy Snow!

11:24 AM  

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