I know, I know, it sounds like a hot romance but I’m referring to the spice annatto, of which the official name is achiote entero. I was at the grocers spice rack the other day and a man next to me was looking for annatto. “I’ve been experimenting with it,” he said answering my curious inquiry. “I use it for coloring.” So, not to be out done, I grabbed my own bag of annatto and stared at it for months, the red colored pulpy seeds stared back and I wondered why I bought them. I don’t need coloring in my Mexican food, the chili powder (which probably has annatto) gives it enough color. But I finally succumbed and threw a little, just a pinch, into my soup and was surprised at the little bit of unusual flavor it imparted but disappointed that there were a few hard pieces that were like tiny rocks so watch out. Annatto is a popular addition to Latin dishes and is used by dairy farmers to color butter coming from cows who don’t get enough vitamin A in their winter feed.
Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:
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