When my parents began The Spice House in 1957, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt was considered the Holy Grail of seasoning salts. We used to stock Lawry’s along with many other blends from bigger companies. That was until my Dad began developing our own blends and seasonings. He started by emulating other popular products and improving their flavor. For example, if a competitor’s garlic salt was one part garlic to eight parts salt, he’d make his more flavorful with one part garlic to four parts salt. Dad soon surmised that Lawry’s was about 80% salt, and set out to create our own all-purpose blend that had less than 25% salt.
He went a little nuts with the ingredients, but ultimately balanced the flavors of 31 spices and herbs to create Old World Seasoning. This blend has the most ingredients out of any other we make. Dad wanted to be sure that ours was intensely flavorful. He even sifted all the ingredients, stirred them 500 times, sifted them again, stirred them another 500 times, and again once more for the end result of a blend that’s triple-sifted and hand turned 1,500 times! We still hand-blend Old World Seasoning in this tradition.
My Dad wasn’t just about making something taste good, he liked to tell stories with spices. He named this blend Old World Seasoning, for immigrants seeking the flavors of home. Milwaukee had a heavy German, Irish and Eastern European influence, so the food memories from these homelands involved mixing in paprika, garlic, onion, celery, dill, marjoram, caraway, rosemary, bay leaves, nutmeg and white pepper.
In those early days when customers requested Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, which most did, we were to tell them, “yes of course, but we also have something much better called Old World Seasoning. Can I give you a taste?”
That was one of my Dad’s biggest lessons, getting the customers to taste spices at any possible chance. Taste is worth more than either a picture or a thousand words when it comes to cooking!
Old World Seasoning turns the simplest foods into robust and complex creations. You could do the millennial thing and sprinkle it over your avocado toast, which is delicious, but you could also follow one of these recipes!
Patty Erd’s parents, Ruth Ann and Bill Penzey Sr., started The Spice House in 1957. Bill’s father was introduced to the spice trade in Europe as a boy and brought his knowledge along to America. Patty and her husband Tom, aka Spice Boss, have lived the life of modern spice merchants–bringing spices from around the world to your table and home. Patty’s passion for learning, teaching and sharing the joy of culinary spices have made The Spice House what it is today.