I inherited the passion from my mother, who sold spices for ten years in the early 2000s, when I worked as a business developer for press groups and communication officer for artists. My mother’s company was called Alibibi, it sold its spices on the market in Suresnes, in the Hauts-de-Seine, in a very souk style.
My father-in-law, passionate about the desert, set it up with her, and he instilled this side of the spice stall, fragrant and colorful. My mother has always cooked a lot, but, like me, she likes simple things: fish, poultry, tajines… She passed on to me the culture of spicy dishes. Every week, for example, she prepared me a chilli con carne, and we challenged each other on the chilli. My father is also crazy about cooking and traveling. When I don’t have time to travel, I often send him as an emissary to meet producers.
When my mother retired, it didn’t take long for my husband and me to decide to take up the torch of spices, putting our identity into it. Charles was a researcher and engineer, but we wanted to retrain and work together. We named the company Nomie, suffix meaning “art of measuring” (e.g.: “gastronomy”), and simultaneously launched a recipe blog, “Gratinez”. The idea was to assess readers’ appetite for topics around spices. This gave us time to build the project, to think about our sourcing, to understand how the chefs and the restaurant world worked.
Following on from what my mother suggested, we created a recipe kit, with the idea of reviving everyday dishes: meat marinades, vegetarian recipes, oriental-inspired pasta or rice, salad dressings… set out to explore the vast universe of dry and aromatic ingredients. Spices are to cooking what adjectives are to sentences, adding meaning, relief, new dimensions to dishes, it’s very exciting.
Today, we offer nearly 400 spice references, of which more than half of the mixtures are original, based on leaves, roots, seeds, but also seaweed, flowers or dried fruits… I am particularly fond of smoked paprika, dried green mango powder, dukkah, which is an Egyptian mixture of roasted seeds and spices.
But my new passion is salsa macha, a spicy oil recipe from southern Mexico, made with dried fruits and fried garlic, and possibly nuts and spices. With Carlo Moreno (@paris.mexico), we did a tropical reinterpretation with ancho and chipotle peppers, cashews and almonds, barberry and dried mango.
In Mexico, this sauce is mainly used for meats and tacos, but I love it on raw fish, for example on pollack in carpaccio. Fish is a great base for spices and it’s also a nod to my mom who went to live in Brittany. These are the flavors that bind us, again and again.