Recently, Lisa Carson and Connie Wang, friends who met as colleagues at a New York City public relations firm, launched an innovative spice company they named Occo. The word is derived from the Italian word abbiocco — the sleepy feeling you get after a big meal or a “food coma.” The spices are premeasured to ½ teaspoon and come in pods, like coffee pods, set onto foldable cards (like a birthday card). The airtight and recyclable little containers keep the high-quality spices and dried herbs fresh. Each card of eight is tailor-made for accompanying recipes that were supplied by a half-dozen award-winning chefs. One card containing spices to make pho spiced beef shish kebab — star anise, coriander, clove, ginger — aligns with a recipe contributed by Mei Lin, a winner of the TV series “Top Chef.” Another has pods for Colombian coconut buns — coriander, fennel, and caraway powder — and it’s for a recipe created by Venezuelan chef Adriana Urbina, a three-time winner of the Food Network series “Chopped.” You find the instructions when you scan the QR code on the cards with a smartphone or download them from the Connecticut company’s website. The idea for premeasured pods came to Carson, an avid cook, when she found it too expensive to stock up on jars of spices while shopping for ingredients for new recipes. “You don’t know if you’re ever going to make those recipes again, and you really just need a small amount,” she says. This is a novel way to discover new dishes, or to stock up for when you need a pinch of this or that. There are various ways to shop here — by chef, recipe, or by spices and dried herbs (cards start at $5 each, 8 are $4.75 each; 16 are $4.50 each; shipping is free). For details, go to eatocco.com.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.