A TOUCH OF SPICE is a nostalgic bitter-sweet comedy about self-awareness, people leaving their homeland, personal conflict, but, most importantly, shows us how cooking can give all of us valuable lessons about love and life itself.
From a philosophical point of view, A TOUCH OF SPICE illuminates on the political, social and cultural meaning of a society through the use of food, albeit in a poetic and lyrical manner. While food is main theme for the film, spice as the most ingredient to the food in the country in discussion forms really the string leading to various discussions of life.
The film tells with success that food is really central to all societies. It does find great relevance to all societies; include that of the Hong Kong, as well. Using the familiar device of cuisine as a metaphor for national identity and personal feelings, bitter-sweetjourney about a man torn between his ethnicity (Greek) and the country of his birth (Turkey) makes its points lightly and given its universal émigré message and considerable exotic attraction.
St Mary’s Wines
What catches my attention regarding this vineyard and its wines is purely their apparent association to a famous, local girl school which bears the same name. What so special then are the St. Mary’s Wines which warrant some words and your time reading them?
Family with tradition. The owner Mulligan family came with a history as long as the girl school. The Mulligan family has been a part of the Penola community for nearly 100 years. Penola was settled in the mid 1800’s as the service centre for the region as it was being opened up to European settlement at the time. I like the Mulligans because I understood that they contribute not only to making good wines, but they also contribute to the wine industry and to the society as a whole.
The wines with a difference. Perhaps the main difference between the wines from St Mary’s and similar wines in the Limestone Coast is that St Mary’s wines are Estate Grown, Hand Made, Basket Pressed and bottled at St Mary’s, and all these are done by members of the family as they really mean them. You can rest assured that they would be trying their best to defend the name.
To me, the niche of the wines from St. Mary’s lie in their minerality and their relatively high complexity by Australian standard, as well as their association with a lovely green, peppery tone with no loss of fruit ripeness, the Mulligan’s respect for tradition and drive for novelty.They are good Australians wines that could have confused trained noses as Bordeaux Blends, which I hope are nice surprises to you.
A bit about the area. St Mary’s vineyard and winery is situated 15 kilometres west of the township of Penola in the Limestone Coast zone of South Australia. The Limestone Coast is a large part of South Australia -120km wide and 500km long- that encompasses all of the wine growing Regions of Penola, Padthaway, Wrattonbully, Mount Benson, Robe and Coonawarra. The Penola Wine Region is a small part of the Limestone Coast 12km wide and 45km long and joins the Wrattonbully and Coonawarra regions. St Mary’s Vineyard is in the middle of the Penola Region. Here under the cold currents influence from the Antartic, the climate is distinctively cool.
Terra Rossa Soil. Many a winemaker could have jeered at Terra Rossa soils as in Australia, all soil is red or slightly red anyways. However, St Mary’s Vineyard is planted on a unique area of Terra Rossa soil over limestone that varies from a depth of a few centimetres to a meter in other parts of the vineyard. The Terra Rossa soil is a combination of organic material, minerals and exposed iron rich particles that have been oxidised to become a deep red colour. The Terra Rossa Soil at St. Mary’s is a special blend of soil. The vineyards at St Mary’s are very stone. Some of the more austere parts of the vineyard are virtually pure rock. The vines that have survived on these stony areas produce relatively small tonnages compared to local district averages. Some of the stonier parts of the vineyard are virtually pure rock. The vines that grow on these stony areas produce very small tonnages of high quality grapes.
Basket Pressing. Traditionally, all press are vertical, with the pressure on the grapes coming from above through a screw and this basket press are normally used for making top wines.When the grapes are picked and finished the fermentation of the wine, we then use a wooden slat Basket Press in a traditional way to press the last of the wine out of the grape skins. The basket press extracts the wine from the grape skins and grape seeds in a very gentle manner and stops us from getting any harsh flavours from cracked grape seeds. St. Mary’s uses the basket press for all of our wines.
Green Tone with No Less Ripeness. St. Mary’s produces only reds and all Of the wines comes with a characteristically green tone, with no less ripeness though, likely to confuse the most experienced nose. SO note the green and black peppery tone associated with the blackcurrant Cabernet Sauvignon; the interesting grassiness of the Merlot and the black peppery tone associate with the blackberry fruit and spice of St. Mary’s Shiraz. And here, I have to say, at St. Mary’s as well as other vineyards in the region. I have to confess that for St. Mary’s, Cabernet is King.
The value of the film lies in its success in interweaving universal themes of existence through the tactic discussion of spices. The beauty of the film is that it says what it has to say without being in anyone's face. Humour, sensitivity, romance and mouth-watering delicacies make up this touching yet comical coming-of-age story that will delight audiences worldwide. It is a tasty production values and accessible, colourful subject matter elevate food. It's a film about their wisdom and pride, foolishness and fidelity - both a satire and an elegy.
It traces the aristocratic root of spice, its functions to shed light on the discussions around universal, thematic issues like the relationship between Man and the Universe, the tradition and culture of societies, the conflict of Turkey and Greece, marriage, gender politics and power, development stages of a Man, ups and downs of life and even Freudian concepts. Therefore, in teaching of the use of spice, the grand father metaphor that life needs spices of living to sparkle up when he said "Pepper...is hot and scorches, just like the sun - Salt... is used as needed to spice up one's life - Cinnamon... is bitter and sweet, just like a woman, and "life, like food, requires salt, too." Spice is to spice up life. Sweet and spicy flavours can be mixed in many ways, and they taste better in combination than they would alone.
The film also provides some good information on the use of spices as well. Therefore, Cinnamon, we were told, makes people turn to each other and express their emotions. Salt makes food tastier. Meatballs must have cumin, according to one group of women, but another group claimed they must contain a pinch of sugar, oregano and nutmeg. But sometimes, people could use the wrong spice to give surprises too.
On a philosophical side, A TOUCH OF SPICE seems to say that one has to understand what's the trauma and go back and reconcile with your life for or anyone who has experienced a cultural change in his or her life... and who needs to come in terms with the personal past. Also, we have to remember to put a little bit of spice in his own life to jazz up our lives. Sometime, we need to stop for a while and rethink what we are and what we have done. Perhaps it is not the choice of spice that matters so much. The choice of spice may have been debated, but never the importance of being with each other around a table covered with lovingly cooked dishes.